A new study by John Hopkins School of Medicine shows that surgeons in the U.S. make 4,000 errors each year. Researchers also estimate that surgeons leave foreign objects, like a towel or sponge, inside their patient’s body following an operation 39 times each week, perform an incorrect procedure on their patients at least 20 times weekly and operate on the wrong part of the body 20 times each week.
Researchers said they believe that over 80,000 of these “never events” happened in hospitals in the U.S. between from 1990 to 2010 and they believe their estimates are most likely on the conservative side.
In order to make sure that the “never events” decrease in frequency researchers said that an assessment that is accurate of the problem was necessary. Doing this would help the hospitals created a better system for avoiding the errors that take place during surgery.
Researchers used information taken from the National Practitioner Data Bank in order to find malpractice judgments and settlements that were settled out of court linked to wrong-site, retained-foreign-body, wrong-patient and wrong-procedure surgeries. They were able to discover close to 10,000 malpractice judgments that had been paid and claims during a 20-year period with payments that totaled $1.3 billion.
With those pay outs based on the rates of surgical adverse events that resulted in claims of malpractice, the researchers estimated that over 4,000 “never events” take place annually in the U.S.
The events occurred most of the time amongst patients who were aged 40 to 49.