Don't you just hate it when you're a patient lying on the operating table, and you hear the doctor say "Oops"? Not to be an alarmist, but even surgeons goof up. Between 1990 and 2010 in the U.S., surgeons left 4,857 objects inside patients ~ objects ranging from surgical tools to sponges. Research in the journal Surgery found evidence of 9,744 paid malpractice claims involving "never events", i.e. errors that should never occur.
Never events include objects left inside the patient, as well as the surgeon performing the wrong procedure, operating on the wrong body part, and even operating on the wrong person. The data reflect only those events for which a malpractice settlement was paid. They do not reflect unresolved malpractice suits, and they do not include events in which the patient experienced no lasting harm. (See image above, click to enlarge)
The potential for harm is quite real. Between 2004 and 2010, among patients experiencing a never event, 59 percent has a temporary injury, 33 percent had a permanent injury, and 6.6 percent died. (See image below)
For a fuller description of never events, check out the Washington Post article here.