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Many 'never events' surgical errors caused by poor communication

Surgeries that involve the wrong patient, procedure or site are referred commonly known as "never events" because they're ones that shouldn't ever occur if the right pre-operative protocol is followed. While data shows that this type of surgical error only happens once in every 112,000 procedures in a hospital setting, those that occur in outpatient settings may be remarkably higher.

Researchers have determined that wrong site, procedure or patient errors (WSPEs) are primarily to blame on communication issues. They most often occur because the entire medical team fails to perform a surgical timeout, which involves them all pausing to review the procedure before it gets underway.

This universal protocol of pausing before a surgery was initially created with the intention of it being performed before the procedure was performed in an operating room. It now must be completed before any type of invasive procedure is performed, though. Most medical teams have standardized the practice by creating safety checklists that providers must complete both before and after any procedure.

According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), there are still WSPEs even when the universal protocol is followed correctly. Most of them occur before a patient is brought into the operating room when the team rushes through its safety checks or the doctor or nursing staff make an error during the operation itself.

The researchers have found that no one approach is effective in reducing the incidence rate of WSPEs. They've found that it instead takes each team member remaining vigilant, emphasizing safety and teamwork and using system solutions to minimize the risk of them.

While wrong organ or body part surgeries are rare, the incidence rates of surgical instruments being left in a patient, anesthesia errors or infections aren't. Surgical mistakes aren't always obvious when they first happen, and they don't all result from negligence. You should consult with an Alton surgical error attorney for help in determining whether your medical team indeed engaged in negligence and whether you're eligible to sue as a result.

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