Updated June 27, 2020

What Are Never Events?

Never events are, as their name implies, medical events that should never happen. These events are clearly identifiable, usually preventable, and overwhelmingly serious, and they often indicate a systemic problem in the healthcare facility in which they take place.

Unfortunately, never events occur much more frequently than you might imagine. And if one of these events happen to you, know that medical negligence is most likely at play.

What Are Some Examples of Never Events?

The following types of never events are selected from the National Quality Forum’s list of never events, which the organization calls “serious reportable events.” View a complete list on their website.

Care Management Events

Never events that fall under care management could include anything from a hemolytic reaction caused by a blood transfusion error to pressure ulcers acquired during a patient’s hospital stay.

Defective Products Events

A healthcare professional using contaminated or defective products as well as using medical devices in ways other than intended can fall under this category.

Environment Events

The environment in the hospital or healthcare facility a patient is located should never be the cause of injury. Patients could be burned, experience electric shocks, or receive contaminated oxygen in an unsafe environment.

Patient Protection Events

During their hospital stay, patients are under the protection of the healthcare facility. Patients—especially infants and children—being released to the wrong parties, patients attempting suicide, and patients disappearing for hours on end are all examples of never events.

Surgical Events

Surgical never events are the most well-known. The idea of a surgeon operating on the wrong body part, performing an operation on the wrong patient, removing the wrong organ or limb, or leaving a foreign object inside the patient’s body is horrifying.

How Common Are Never Events?

Researchers at Johns Hopkins published a study in Surgery that looked at never event statistics—one of the first studies of its kind. Their findings are startling, including that approximately 80,000 never events occurred in hospitals in the United States between 1990 and 2010.

Data recorded during that twenty-year period led to the following statistics:

  • 6% of never events resulted in death
  • 9% of never events resulted in permanent injury
  • 2% of never events resulted in temporary injury

These cases resulted in 9,744 paid medical malpractice lawsuits and $1.3 billion in payments.

Why Do Never Events Happen?

Never events happen at an alarming rate for things that should never occur. A variety of common reasons could be behind why one of these instances took place: negligent actions of a healthcare professional, a lack of oversight or supervision, an unsafe hospital culture, or even administrative conditions such as understaffing.

A lawyer experienced in medical malpractice lawsuits can help you determine who is liable for your never event.

Contact a Medical Malpractice Attorney Today

If you or a loved one have been a victim of medical malpractice, contact an Indianapolis Medical Malpractice Attorney from Wilson Kehoe Winingham. The lawyers at WKW can help you get the compensation you deserve. Call 317.920.6400 or fill out an online contact form for a free, no-obligation case evaluation.

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