Never say never

Surgeons make too many “never event” mistakes for comfort, study finds

About 500 times a year, a surgeon in the United States makes a surgical mistake—termed a “never event”—like leaving an object inside a patient, operating on the wrong part of someone’s body or performing the wrong procedure.

Research published in the journal Surgery found that between 1990 and 2010, 9,744 malpractice claims involved a never event, according to About half of those cases involved leaving an object inside a patient, while 17 of the cases involved a surgeon operating on the wrong person altogether.

The consequences of botched surgery are serious—6.6 percent of patients experiencing a never event died, while a third had permanent injury. Patients who received the wrong procedure were at the highest risk of death or permanent injury.