Open-and-shut Medical Malpractice Cases in Virginia

Each year, there are more medical advancements, more brilliant ideas, more breakthroughs in research, and more effort put into making the medical industry a safer and more beneficial place. Some professionals would have you believe that these advancements are leading to fewer medical malpractice claims, but a recent study by Johns Hopkins University has discovered otherwise.  

In the surgical field, there are complications known as “never-events.” These never-events are called this because they should never, ever happen.  They include mistakes that are easily preventable like:

  • Operating on the wrong site 
  • Leaving behind a surgical instrument 
  • Leaving behind a towel or sponge, 
  • Performing a procedure on the wrong patient 

The new study discovered that approximately 80,000 of these events occurred at hospitals across the U.S. in the last twenty years, including hospitals in Virginia and D.C. They believe that estimate to be on the lower side, as that number only includes the cases that were actually reported.  

The study has spurred on medical administrators to push for mandatory reporting of never-events. Currently, these events are reported voluntarily. With mandatory reporting, patients would be able to choose a hospital based on their accuracy, as well as hold hospitals accountable to keep their number of never-events lower. It would be in the best interest of hospitals to make strides in the direction of making these events a thing of the past because the cases almost always lead to a settlement in favor of the patient.  Never-events are usually easily proven and considered by many to be an “open and shut case.”  A few ideas suggested by the researchers to minimize never-events are:

  • Mandatory timeouts in the operating room to make sure that medical plans and surgeons’ records match the patient on the table
  • Using indelible ink to mark the site of the surgery before the patient is under anesthesia
  • Procedures to count sponges, towels, and other surgical items before and after surgery using electronic barcodes to eliminate the likelihood of human error
  • Surgical checklists reviewed by more than one person

Even with procedures in place, surgical mistakes seem to be an inevitable part of medicine. If you were the victim of a never-event during surgery in Virginia or D.C., contact our medical malpractice attorneys at Shevlin Smith. We have the experience necessary to deal with hospitals and insurance companies on your behalf. Call 703.591.0067 today!

To learn more about what to expect in your malpractice case, click the link above to receive a free copy of our book, Do I Have a Case? A Patient’s Guide to Virginia Medical Negligence Law.