The National Quality Forum has defined 29 never events—patient safety problems that should never occur, such as wrong-site surgery and patient falls. Since 2003, Minnesota hospitals have been required to report such incidents. The 2021 report summarizes information about 508 adverse events that were reported, representing a significant increase in the year covered. Earlier reports document a fairly consistent count of adverse events. The rise reflected here is likely due to demands on staffing and care processes associated with COVID-19. Pressure ulcers and fall-related injuries were the most common incidents documented. Reports from previous years are available.
Farnborough, UK: Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch; April 22, 2021.
Wrong-site surgery in dentistry is a frequent and persistent never event. This report examines a case of pediatric wrong tooth extraction to reveal how the application of safety standards is influenced by the work environment and discusses the use of forcing functions to create barriers to error in practice.
Cohen SP, Hayek SM, Datta S, et al. Anesthesiology. 2010;112:711-8.
Wrong-site surgeries are considered rare but devastating never events. However, a recent article suggested that wrong-site procedures may be more common than previously thought, since such errors can occur in procedures performed in areas other than the operating room. This study sought to evaluate the incidence of wrong-site surgery in pain management, using data from 10 facilities over a 2-year period. Although the overall incidence was low—only 13 cases were found with minimal associated patient harm—most cases were considered preventable, as clinicians failed to follow recommended preventive measures. A wrong-site surgery near miss is discussed in this AHRQ WebM&M commentary.
A woman with a fractured right foot receives spinal anesthesia and nearly has surgery for trimalleolar fracture and dislocation of the left ankle. Only immediately prior to surgery did the team realize that the x-ray was not hers.
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