The term Never Event was coined in 2001 by the National Quality Forum to refer to certain easily preventable and particularly shocking medical mistakes that should never happen to a patient which, unfortunately, can and do occur — often with fatal results.
What kinds of events should never happen?
Never Events typically fall into one or more of the following six categories:
- Product or device errors — such as administering contaminated drugs or using medical devices in a manner for which they were not intended
- Surgical mistakes — performing surgery on the wrong body part, operating on the wrong patient or leaving foreign objects in a patient’s body after surgery
- Errors in patient protection — such as discharging a patient who is mentally incompetent, not preventing a patient from committing suicide, or allowing a patient to leave prior to official discharge
- Care management issues — such as giving a patient the wrong drugs or not properly communicating test results
- Radiology errors — death or serious injury can result from, for example, allowing a metal object into the MRI area
- Environmental issues — such as injuries resulting from improperly confining a patient or a patient suffering burns while in the hospital
- Criminal activity — for example, abducting or sexually assaulting a patient
What causes Never Events?
Factors behind Never Events include:
- Staff negligence
- Sleep deprivation
- Reliance on too many inexperienced doctor trainees
- Administrative disorganization
- Failure to supervise staff or implement professional protocols
Who can be held responsible for Never Events?
Parties who can be liable for Never Events include individual physicians and nurses (regardless of whether they are employees of the hospital or an outside agency), hospital administration and support staff and, in the case of contract physicians or nurses, the contract agency.
Following a Never Event — or another type of medical negligence — an experienced Phoenix medical negligence attorney can help you to identify the cause of the harm, determine which parties are responsible and help you sue for damages.