Never Events in Healthcare: Understanding Serious Medical Errors



Medical errors are a grave concern in the healthcare sector, and there is a term for the most severe types of errors: “Never Events.” These Never Events are completely preventable medical errors that should never occur. They can have severe consequences on patients’ health and sometimes even result in loss of life.

Understanding these events is crucial. And if you or a loved one ends up in such a situation,  Never Events legal help should always be your first course of action. Read on so you can know more about these specific situations!

What Are Never Events?

Never Events are medical errors that lead to catastrophic outcomes. They are preventable errors that occur due to negligence or human errors. The severity of these incidents sets them apart from common adverse occurrences in healthcare facilities.

The National Quality Forum (NQF) established the list of original Never Events in 2002, and additional categories have been added since then. The NQF identified thirty-four “Serious Reportable Events,” with plans to continue adding incidents annually. Some of the most agreed-upon Never Events among professionals include:

  • Surgery on the wrong body part
  • Leaving instruments inside a patient’s body cavity after surgery
  • Artificial insemination using donor eggs/sperm in the presence of malignancies
  • Administering incompatible blood products
  • Patient suicide or self-harm while under supervisory care at healthcare facilities
  • Medication errors, including overdose, lead to death
  • Medicinal product mix-ups within a facility are also included but do not pose the same relentless risk as other higher-risk never event types.

What Causes Never Events?

Although Never Events occur less frequently than the overall number of daily hospital procedures, even a single occurrence is too many when considering the protocols developed over time in hospitals. These protocols are based on the shared experience of dedicated healthcare personnel who strive to provide excellent patient care.

A breakdown in this system can lead to incidents resulting from human error, which then rapidly propagate through the reactive nature of the system. While technology and protocols can improve during medical procedures, the human response remains essential, and sometimes Never Events slip through safety measures.

Who Is Impacted by Never Events?

The patients bear the brunt of the negative outcomes of Never Events, which can have a domino effect on their families and even entire communities. Each incident compromises trust in hospitals and undermines confidence in the work of these facilities for all parties involved.

Recent investigations led by Johns Hopkins and Boston University Medical Centers researchers reveal that an estimated 250,000 people die annually due to medical malpractice, particularly medication errors. Unfortunately, only 2% to 10% of such errors are reported for various reasons, including fear of litigation or workplace conflicts.

How Can We Prevent Never Events?

Prevention techniques for Never Events have existed for years. New processes are continually being implemented in healthcare facilities, along with regular training updates for staff members providing daily patient care. Emerging technologies such as electronic health records and clinical decision support tools make it easier to identify risk situations.

Healthcare providers are increasingly interested in tracking metrics that help focus efforts on prevention strategies with measurable results rather than solely relying on reports of past incidents. This approach promotes a shared approach to patient safety management and spreads best practices across all geographical regions.

Wrapping Up

Never Events are catastrophic mistakes that should never happen during safe healthcare practices. It is truly tragic when our loved ones, whom we entrust with our most vulnerable aspects, suffer further harm due to preventable errors caused by negligence or oversight.

Patients must advocate for increased development, alignment, and harmonization of care practices across the healthcare sector. This will optimize outcomes and facilitate the spreading of best practices throughout all regions, ensuring a shared approach to patient safety management.

Lastly, the legal route to compensation for medical negligence isn’t an easy one. You are going to need legal representation to build a strong case. So, hire an attorney at the earliest.