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What Are Never Events?

What Are Never Events

Never Events‘ refers to shocking and unacceptable medical errors that should not occur under any circumstances. These Never Events encompass a broad range of incidents, including surgery performed on the wrong patient, medication errors, and the retention of a foreign object in a patient’s body post-surgery.  

At TLF: The Medical Injury Law Firm, we recognize the profound importance of understanding Never Events, not only in regard to patient safety and healthcare standards but also as a crucial aspect of medical malpractice law. Our commitment is to shed light on these egregious errors, helping clients navigate the complexities of such cases and advocating for accountability and improvement in healthcare practices.

Patients trust their healthcare providers to help their conditions improve, not get worse. That’s why the Northern Kentucky and Ohio medical malpractice lawyers at TLF: The Medical Injury Law Firm aggressively fight for clients who have suffered injuries from negligent medical care. If you or a loved one has been the victim of a Never Event, let us fight for you. 

To learn more about how our compassionate medical malpractice attorneys can help, schedule a free consultation by calling (800) 698-4054 or complete our online intake form today. 

Never Events in Healthcare

The term “Never Events” was first coined in 2001 by Dr. Ken Kizer, former CEO of the National Quality Forum. Since then, it has become a critical part of understanding patient safety and medical errors. Originally, this term, also called serious reportable events, was used to describe particularly shocking medical errors that were clearly identifiable and measurable, serious, and usually preventable, such as surgery on the wrong patient or limb.  

A comprehensive list of Never Events was first published by the National Quality Forum in 2002  and has been updated several times to include new adverse events and applicable settings. The latest update was published in 2011 and added Never Events involving radiologic adverse events. 

Over time, the definition of Never Events has evolved and expanded into distinct categories, encompassing surgical, product/device, patient care management, patient protection, environmental, radiologic, and criminal events. These serious reportable events include specific instances like wrong-site surgery, death or injury due to medication error, and patient suicide or attempted suicide on hospital premises. 

Never Events in Healthcare

Types of Never Events

Never Events encompass a range of serious, preventable medical errors and are broken down into various categories. From surgical errors to patient care oversights, environmental hazards, and even criminal acts within healthcare settings, this section categorizes and details the various types of Never Events, according to the 2011 Serious Reportable Events Update published by the National Quality Forum. 

Surgical Never Events

Surgical events are preventable incidents that should never happen if proper safety protocols are followed during a surgical procedure. Examples of surgical Never Events include:

  • Wrong-site surgery (includes surgery performed on the wrong body part, the wrong side of the body, and the wrong patient) 
  • Wrong surgical procedure performed
  • Unintended foreign object left in the patient

Product or Device Never Events

Product or device events usually result from a combination of human error and equipment failure. When devices are used other than as intended, patient death can occur. Examples of product or device events include:

  • Patient death or injury caused by contaminated drugs or defective medical devices provided by the healthcare facility
  • Patient death or serious injury caused by a device used as otherwise intended
  • Patient death or injury caused by an intravascular air embolism

Patient Protection Never Events

Patient protection events compromise patient safety, particularly regarding patient protection and security. These events are especially concerning as they involve vulnerable individuals under the care of healthcare professionals. Examples of these serious adverse events include:

  • Release or discharge of patients or residents of any age who are unable to make their own decisions
  • Patient death or injury related to patient elopement (disappearance) 
  • Patient suicide, attempted suicide, or other self-harm that causes serious injury or disability

Care Management Never Events

Care management never events are preventable mistakes made during the management and provision of patient care. Examples include:

  • Medication errors resulting in patient death or serious injury, including the wrong drug, wrong patient, wrong dose, wrong time, wrong preparation, wrong rate, or wrong route of administration
  • The unsafe administration of blood products that result in death or serious injury
  • A low-risk pregnancy that results in maternal death or serious injury while under the care of a healthcare facility
  • Death or serious injury of a newborn during labor and delivery in a low-risk pregnancy
  • Serious injury or death following a fall at a healthcare facility
  • Artificial insemination with the wrong donor sperm or egg
  • Any stage 3, 4, or unstageable pressure ulcers acquired following admission/presentation into a healthcare setting
  • Patient death or serious injury caused by a failure to communicate or follow-up pathology, lab, or radiology results
  • Death or serious disability that results from the irretrievable loss of a biological specimen

Environmental Never Events

Environmental events are caused by failures or hazards within the physical environment of healthcare facilities. This type of never event poses significant risks to patient care and safety. Examples of these serious reportable events include:

  • Electric shock resulting in patient or staff death or serious disability
  • Any incident resulting from a gas line containing no gas, the wrong gas, or has been contaminated by toxic substances
  • Patient death or serious injury related to the use of bed rails or restraints
  • Patient or staff death or serious injury from a burn contracted from any source during the patient care process

Radiological Never Events

Radiological adverse events were added in 2011 to the comprehensive list of Never Events. When death or serious injury of a patient or staff member results from the introduction of a metallic object into the MRI area, it’s considered a Never Event. 

Criminal Never Events

Criminal events are unlawful or unethical actions within health care organizations, constituting serious breaches of patient safety and trust. This Never Event involves intentional misconduct, often with significant legal implications. Examples include:

  • Any form of care ordered or provided by an individual impersonating a physician, nurse, pharmacist, or other licensed healthcare provider
  • Abduction of a patient or resident of any age
  • Death or significant injury of a patient or staff member caused by physical assault occurring on the grounds of the healthcare facility
  • Sexual abuse/assault on a patient within or on the grounds of the healthcare facility
Types of Never Events

Impact of Never Events on Patients and Families

The impact of Never Events on patients and families extends far beyond physical harm, resulting in profound emotional and long-term consequences. Physically, patients may suffer from worsened medical conditions, require additional surgeries or treatments, and, in severe cases, face permanent disability or wrongful death. The emotional toll is equally significant, with patients and their families often experiencing a deep sense of betrayal, loss of trust in the healthcare system, anxiety, and trauma, leading to long-lasting psychological impacts like depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. 

These events can also drastically alter the quality of life for both patients and their families, potentially resulting in chronic pain, disability, loss of income, and ongoing medical care or rehabilitation. The ripple effect of Never Events is why it’s crucial to work with an experienced medical malpractice attorney to ensure patients and their families recover the compensation they deserve. If you’ve suffered the consequences of a Never Event, contact the Ohio and Northern Kentucky medical malpractice attorneys at TLF: The Medical Injury Law Firm today. 

Medical Malpractice Law and Never Events

Never Events are clear instances where standards of medical care are breached. Legally, they are considered strong evidence of negligence, as these events are typically preventable and occur due to significant lapses in safety protocols, oversight, or due diligence by healthcare providers. Ethically, they represent a profound violation of the duty of care owed to patients. 

A Never Event in a medical malpractice claim often shifts the burden of proof, requiring healthcare providers to demonstrate that the standard of care was not breached. This legal perspective reinforces healthcare providers’ duty to maintain the highest standards of care, ensuring patient safety and preventing such grievous errors. The legal ramifications for institutions and individuals involved in Never Events can be severe, including lawsuits, financial penalties, loss of licensure, and damage to professional reputation.

Never Event Malpractice Lawyers

What to Do If You Are Affected by a Never Event

If you or a loved one have been affected by a Never Event, the next steps are crucial not only for the victim’s health, but also from a medical malpractice claim standpoint. The first step should always be to seek necessary medical assistance to address any immediate health concerns and mitigate further harm. It’s important to keep up with all documentation relating to the incident, including medical records, witness statements, and any communication with healthcare providers.

Since Never Events are preventable, they are often eligible for medical malpractice claims. Victims of these incidents should obtain legal counsel from an experienced medical malpractice attorney to ensure the best possible outcome. 

How the Medical Malpractice Attorneys at TLF: The Medical Injury Law Firm Can Help

At TLF: The Medical Injury Law Firm, we understand the challenges of medical malpractice cases and are committed to thoroughly examining every detail, from medical records to procedural protocols, to establish a strong foundation for your claim. Our experience in representing victims of Never Events is grounded in a deep understanding of Ohio and Kentucky healthcare laws and standards of care, which enables us to effectively advocate for your rights.

The Ohio and Northern Kentucky malpractice attorneys at TLF are confident in our pursuit of justice and compensation for our clients. Our goal is not only to secure the financial compensation you deserve but also to hold responsible parties accountable. This allows our clients a sense of closure while contributing to the prevention of similar occurrences in the future. 

Call Our Ohio and Northern Kentucky Malpractice Lawyers at TLF Today For a Free Consultation

Receiving medical treatment or undergoing a surgical procedure is stressful enough without worrying about whether or not you’re in good hands. Our Ohio and Northern medical malpractice attorneys are committed to providing you with the support, guidance, and representation you need during this challenging time. 

We offer a free consultation to discuss your case, understand your situation, and outline how we can help seek justice and compensation for you. To learn more about how the compassionate medical malpractice lawyers at TLF: The Medical Injury Law Firm can help, call (800) 698-4054 or complete our online intake form today. You can also reach our Kentucky office at (859) 578-9130 or our Ohio office at (513) 651-4130.


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