What is a “Never Event” and How Does it Affect a Malpractice Claim?
What is a “Never Event” and How Does it Affect a Malpractice Claim?

We frequently discuss the dangers of car accidents, and how often they claim the lives of people across the U.S. As dangerous as auto accidents are, they do not claim nearly as many lives each year as do medical errors. In fact, a Johns Hopkins University study found that medical mistakes kill more than 250,000 people in the U.S. each year. But that number may actually be much higher—a New England Journal of Medicine study found the number was actually close to 440,000.

If medical mistakes claim 440,000 lives a year, that makes medical errors the third leading cause of death in the U.S., trailing only heart disease and cancer. It’s clear that medical errors are a serious problem in the U.S., and one that affects thousands of people and their loved ones every year.

There are many different kinds of medical errors that can cause harm to patients. Some are simple mistakes that may only cause temporary issues. Others are incredibly serious, and can result in permanent illness, injury, or death. The worst of these medical mistakes are known as “never events.”

Defining Never Events

According to the National Quality Forum (NQF), never events are shocking medical errors that should never occur. These events are broken down into seven categories: surgical or procedural events, product or device events, patient protection events, environmental events, radiologic events, and criminal events. Some examples of never events include:

  • Operating on the wrong body part
  • Operating on the wrong patient
  • Leaving a foreign object in a patient after a procedure
  • Medication error that results in serious injury or death (wrong dose given, drug given to wrong patient, etc.)
  • Patient death or serious injury due to use of contaminated drugs or devices
  • Maternal death or serious injury associated with labor and delivery in a low-risk pregnancy
  • Sexual assault of a patient in a health care setting

How Often Do Never Events Occur?

Never events are preventable mistakes that can cause devastating consequences, and they happen far too often. According to a 2013 study conducted by Johns Hopkins University, there were an average of 4,044 never events in the U.S. each year, between 1990 and 2010. During that 20-year-period, the study found there were 9,744 malpractice judgments and $1.3 billion in paid claims related to never events. From the never events studied, 59.2% resulted in temporary injury, 39.2% resulted in permanent injury, and 6.6% resulted in patient death.

Doctors and nurses are only human, so it is expected that some mistakes will be made. And not every medical mistake is going to be grounds for a malpractice lawsuit. But never events are the extreme. They are mistakes that should never occur and that are entirely preventable.

Identifying a Valid Malpractice Claim

If you or a loved one has suffered a never event, you are very likely to have a successful medical malpractice claim against the doctor and/or medical facility at fault. However, it is important that you are diligent in proving your case. A personal injury attorney experienced in medical malpractice lawsuits will be able to help you assess your damages and seek fair compensation for your losses.

“Never events are inexcusable medical mistakes that can seriously hurt or kill patients. If you or a loved one has suffered because of a never event, consult with a personal injury attorney about your case,” said Attorney Walter Clark, founder of Walter Clark Legal Group.

Medical Malpractice Attorneys in the Coachella Valley

Our firm has been handling personal injury cases throughout the California Low Desert and High Desert communities for over 30 years. With a 95% success rate, the personal injury attorneys at Walter Clark Legal Group will fight to hold those responsible for your loss accountable and win compensation to cover medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. If you have been injured and want to discuss your legal options, contact us today for a free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer. We have offices in Indio, Rancho Mirage, Victorville, El Centro, and Yucca Valley, and represent clients through the entire California Low Desert and High Desert communities.

DISCLAIMER: The Walter Clark Legal Group blog is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended as legal or medical advice. References to laws are based on general legal practices and vary by location. Information reported comes from secondary news sources. We do handle these types of cases, but whether or not the individuals and/or loved ones involved in these accidents choose to be represented by a law firm is a personal choice we respect. Should you find any of the information incorrect, we welcome you to contact us with corrections.

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