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Never Events: Medical Errors That Should Never Happen

Never events should never occur.  A never event is a medical error so egregious and preventable that it should never happen, but unfortunately they do.  In fact, a Johns Hopkins study found that an estimated 88,000 such events occur each year in the U.S., leading to permanent injury or death.  Never events may include surgeons leaving surgical equipment inside of a patient’s body post-surgery or operating on the wrong body part.  Sadly, a pregnant woman recently died after a wrong body part was removed during what should have been a routine surgical procedure.

Trainee Surgeon Removes Wrong Body Part During Surgery

Maria De Jesus, a 32-year-old woman, died after surgeons at Queen’s Hospital outside of London diagnosed her with appendicitis while pregnant but failed to remove her appendix.  The surgery took place on October 23 last year under the care of then-trainee surgeon, Dr. Yahya Al-Abed.  Dr. Al-Abed was supposed to be supervised by Dr. Babatunde Coker during the procedure, but reports suggest that Dr. Coker was never summoned or told that the surgery was taking place because he was eating lunch.  Dr. Al-Abed removed the wrong body part during the surgery; instead of removing Mrs. De Jesus’s appendix, he removed her right ovary.  She then began to bleed profusely on the operating table but was told to go home after her procedure.

Pregnant Woman Dies After Surgery Goes Terribly Wrong

De Jesus returned to the hospital in severe pain on November 7.  Another doctor at the hospital realized that she still had her appendix and was still suffering from appendicitis.  Tragically, it was too late: Mrs. De Jesus  was 21 weeks pregnant with her fourth child at the time of the surgery and delivered the baby, a boy, stillborn.  She was then taken to the OR for a second surgery to remove her appendix but died on the operating table from multiple organ failure and septicemia.  The two doctors, Dr. Al-Abed and Dr. Coker, is set to face a medical tribunal to decide the fates of their medical careers.  Clearly, this tragic situation is but one of many–too many–egregious medical errors that occur here in the U.S. and elsewhere.

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