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What Is a Never Event in Health Care?

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A never event is a medical mistake that should never happen. Because of the severity of these mistakes, never events are nearly synonymous with medical malpractice cases. The Patient Safety Network recognizes 29 never events (also called serious reportable events) in 7 categories.

Never events can involve surgery, medical devices, patient protection, medication, pregnancy, restraints, MRI machines, and even criminal activity.

Surgical Errors

Surgical never events are some of the most shocking. A surgeon may perform an invasive procedure on the wrong body part or patient, perform the wrong surgery, or leave a foreign object inside the patient.

For example, a surgeon could amputate the wrong leg or leave behind a surgical sponge when closing a wound or incision.

Anesthesiology errors may also count as surgical errors if a patient dies in surgery or immediately afterward.

Product or Device Errors

All medical professionals must use medical devices correctly and avoid contamination. If a patient gets seriously hurt or dies due to contamination or misuse, the accident is considered a never event.

Patient Protection Errors

When you are under a doctor’s care, that doctor is responsible for keeping you safe. If your doctor releases you before you are ready or loses track of you, this counts as a never event.

Sadly, patient protection errors are common among patients with mental health conditions, as doctors can be held liable for suicide, attempted suicide, or self-harm while a patient is in their care.

Care Management Events

Care management events are the widest category of never events because they involve mediation errors, birth injuries, pressure sores, falls, testing, and biological specimen.

Some care management never events include:

  • Drug overdose
  • The unsafe administration of blood products
  • Death or serious injury during labor and delivery in a low-risk pregnancy
  • Artificial insemination with the wrong donor sperm or wrong egg
  • Failure to follow up on test results
  • And more

If you have suffered a serious injury or loss in the delivery room or as the result of a delayed diagnosis, you should speak to an attorney because you may have been the victim of a care management event.

Environmental Errors

Most people cannot think of a safer place than a hospital or health care facility. If the environment at a medical facility leads to serious injury or death for patients or staff, you may be dealing with an environmental error.

Environmental never events include burn injuries, electric shocks, and problems with the use of restraints or bedrails.

Radiological Errors

A radiological never event occurs when a metallic object is introduced into the MRI area, and the mistake results in the death or serious injury of a patient or staff.

Criminal Events

Unfortunately, criminal activity takes place everywhere. When crimes occur at health care facilities, however, they are also considered never events.

Criminal never events include:

  • Impersonating a licensed health care provider
  • Abduction of a patient or resident
  • Sexual abuse or assault of a patient
  • Physical assault of a patient or staff member that results in serious injury or death

When illegal activity occurs in medical settings, victims must hold both the perpetrator and the institution accountable.

Have You Suffered a Never Event?

Never events are never events because they should never have happened, in the first place. If you have been harmed by a serious medical error, our team at Douglas, Leonard & Garvey, P.C. can help you show this to an insurance company, judge, or jury.

Not only can we fight for compensation on your behalf, but we can also help hold negligent medical providers accountable to help make sure what happens to you never happens to anyone again.

When you’re ready, please call us at (603) 288-1403 or send us a message online to put 20+ years of experience on your side and discuss your case with attorneys who prioritize you and your case.