Many of us have heard stories about botched surgeries during which medical
instruments are left inside patients, but how many of us considered these
stories to be urban legends? Sadly, such stories aren’t tall tales
but often the truth. A
recent story in the
Salt Lake Tribune documented serious medical errors that took place in Utah hospitals in
the twenty-first century. These “never events,” or sentinel
events, as they are called, numbered some 219 from October 2001 to April
2007 and resulted in the deaths of nearly half. Among these errors were
patients receiving the wrong blood type during transfusions, patients
receiving the wrong type of medication, patients having the wrong type
of surgery performed, and patients, specifically infants, being dropped.
Utah follows 32 types of serious medical errors with the intention of finding
solutions to these errors and to prevent them from happening in the future.
In 2007 alone Utah facilities reported 57 sentinel events. Of these 27
patients died, 28 were severely inured, 1 suffered from unwanted sexual
contact, and 1 disappeared. A large percentage of the medical errors took
place in operating rooms. Lack of communication is often blamed.
Have you or someone you know experienced a “never event”? While
these stories are seriously alarming, it’s probably wise not to
get too paranoid about hospital care. As with anything medical, it’s
best to do your research, ask a lot of questions, and be your own advocate.