The worst kind of medical malpractice events, such as a surgical implement being left behind in a patient’s abdomen, are referred to as “never events.” As in, they should never happen. But they do. A lot, in fact. And according to a recent study, a little more than 4,000 never events have happen each year from 1990 to 2010. These mistakes occur in 6.6 percent of patients, 32.9 percent of whom claimed permanent injury, causing liability payouts of $1.3 billion. This is all despite improved quality assurance and safety measures, which shows that there is still a lot of room for improvement.

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