Coined in 2001, the phrase "never events" refers to appalling medical mistakes, like amputations of the wrong body part, that occur and shouldn't.
The National Quality Forum has compiled a list of the most prevalent types of never events and, among the list, are surgical procedures conducted on the wrong patient, serious injuries from contaminated drugs or devices, and artificial insemination with the wrong donor sperm.
Carelessly leaving an instrument, gauze or surgical sponge inside a patient's body cavity post surgery is another.
But one medical device company hopes to change this. They have introduced the "SurgiCount Promise." But what is it?
Headquartered in Michigan, Stryker is one of the world's top medical device and technology manufacturers. They make surgical sponges, used during surgery to soak of blood and other bodily fluids during the procedure.
Their new product, called SurgiCount Sponges, is designed to reduce the number of infections and other injury these sponges can cause if left behind inside a patient.
In basic terms, each SurgiCount Sponge contains a type of code, which is scanned prior to use. After surgery, the sponge is scanned again, revealing any that are missing. In some cases, hundreds of sponges may be cataloged for just one procedure.
Sktryker is so confident in their product that they are offering a multi-million dollar liability coverage for any that fail and cause injury.
It remains to be seen whether the product will take off-but more importantly whether it will create a snowball effect for other device makers to implement similar strategies in order to help curb the number of never events and other medical errors that happen every single day in the U.S.
According to U.S. News and World Report, over 200,000 patients every year die from some type of medical mistake.