In continuing coverage, the Los Angeles Times reports that “surgical errors have attracted widespread attention over the past several years, leading to new laws and policies. In 2007, California started requiring hospitals to report certain errors and fining them if the mistakes killed or seriously injured patients.” Approximately 2,000 patients nationwide report surgeons leaving materials inside them inadvertently each year. The most common left behind item is a surgical sponge. “A recent study by Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine researchers estimated that surgeons leave sponges or other items inside patients about 39 times a week.”
Medscape adds that authors of a study estimated a higher figure for preventable surgical mistakes, that over 4,000 incidents “occurred each year between 1990 and 2010 in the United States.” Additionally, the authors “note that some steps have already been implemented to reduce the incidence of surgical never events.” The study explains that “In an effort to incentivize patient safety in surgery, payers are increasingly focusing on these events that should never take place (surgical never events) as metrics of quality care…medicare and several states have already announced that hospitals will be penalized for such events in pay-for-performance programs.”
From the American Association for Justice news release.