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What Are Medical “Never Events?”

Doctor administering oxygen mask to woman with brain scans behind

Examples of medical malpractice are as varied as the field itself. In one case, a patient may lose valuable time due to a misdiagnosis. In another, a patient could experience a surgical error that affects them for the rest of their life. Then there are examples of negligence so serious and so obvious that they should never have been allowed to happen.

What are these medical “Never Events,” and what should you do if you believe you were impacted by one? Let’s find out.

Never Events Explained

When an example of medical malpractice is obvious, easily preventable, and has serious consequences for a patient’s health, it is considered a never event (also called a “serious reportable event”). Even one of these events jeopardizes the medical facility’s integrity and will usually prompt a safety investigation.

Never events are almost always fatal or present long-term complications that permanently impact a patient’s quality of life. In extreme and rare cases, a never event could also refer to criminal conduct at a healthcare facility. Despite nearly two decades of effort to eliminate these errors, there are still about 4,000 surgical never events each year.

Types of Never Events

The Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) identifies 11 types of never events. The National Quality Forum (NQF) identifies 28 serious reportable events, many of them overlapping with the CMS definitions.

A few examples of never events that meet both CMS and NQF definitions include:

  • Death/injury in a facility due to hypoglycemia (diabetes)
  • Air embolism during intravenous injection (air in the syringe)
  • Death/injury in a facility due to electric shock, burns, or a fall
  • Incompatible blood transfusion
  • The patient develops Stage 3 or Stage 4 bedsores while in a healthcare facility
  • Surgery on the incorrect patient or incorrect body part
  • Foreign object left inside a patient during surgery

The NQF also views the following scenarios as never events:

  • Baby discharged to the wrong family
  • Incorrect sperm donation used
  • Injury/death from contaminated materials
  • Death/disability due to medication error
  • Death/disability due to wrong oxygen or other gas
  • Sexual assault at a healthcare facility
  • Impersonation of a doctor
  • Abduction from a healthcare facility

Each of these examples of medical malpractice are egregious and inexcusable. That’s why anyone who believes they were impacted by one of these never events should contact a medical malpractice attorney immediately.

If you want an experienced New York City personal injury attorney from Simonson Goodman Platzer PC to fight for your recovery, don’t hesitate to send us an email or call (800) 817-5029.