What Are Never Events?

What Are Never Events?

Medical Never Event Never events are serious errors that a healthcare provider should have never made. They lead to severe health-related consequences. Patients who becnome victims of never events or their families can seek sizable compensation.

While all doctors and hospitals make mistakes, many of them are light and reversible. These medical errors can lead to permanent disabilities, severe reduction in quality of life, and even death when it comes to never events.

look more closely at never events and compensation opportunities for victims with our experienced medical negligence attorneys.

Healthcare Never Event Topics

Types of Never Events In Healthcare

According to the National Quality Forum, 29 events qualify as never events. They fall into seven categories.

1. Surgery or Other Invasive Procedures

While surgical errors are not a rarity (around 4,000 occur in the United States each year), many do not cause serious consequences.

However, some of these mistakes are never events and become the basis of large malpractice lawsuits.

  • Wrong side - Doctors perform an invasive procedure or surgery on the wrong side. An example would be an amputation of the wrong extremity or organ.
  • Wrong patient - A mix-up in hospital records could lead to performing surgery or another procedure on the wrong patient.
  • Wrong surgery - Doctors perform the wrong surgery on a patient.
  • Foreign object - Surgeons or other medical personnel leave a foreign object in the patient during an invasive procedure or surgery.
  • Unexpected death - A normal healthy patient dies during or right after surgery.

These errors can occur in both inpatient and outpatient medical facilities. Even if the procedure is seemingly minor or routine, it can still trigger a never event.

2. Devices and Drugs

A doctor’s actions or paperwork mix-ups are not the only causes of never events. Malfunctioning devices or contaminated drugs could lead to severe injury or death.

  • Contaminated drugs, devices, biologics - Doctors or other healthcare providers use contaminated drugs or devices to treat the patient and cause severe infection. During surgery, this can be lethal.
  • Malfunctioning device - A healthcare provider uses a malfunctioning device or misuses a device to cause a severe injury or death.
  • Intravascular air embolism - An error that causes air bubbles to enter the vein or artery and block it. It can happen due to malfunctioning equipment or a doctor’s mistake.

These events happen due to the doctor's and the hospital's negligence. learn more about the 4 D's of medical negligence to understand when your care provider has breached their duty of care.

3. Patient Protection

Never events are not just errors related to the healthcare providers’ actions during a specific procedure.

They can occur after the treatment, but the doctor or hospital is still responsible for the patient’s well-being.

  • Improper discharge - A hospital discharges a patient who cannot make decisions to an unauthorized party. This usually means discharging an infant to the wrong person.
  • Disappearance - A patient sustains a severe injury or dies after disappearing from a clinic or hospital.
  • Suicide or suicide attempt - A patient causes a severe injury or death to themselves in a healthcare setting.

Negligence in a healthcare setting can take on many forms. You need a medical malpractice lawyer to identify them and protect your rights even when surgery or another type of treatment ends.

4. Care Management

While doctors care for the patient, many mistakes can occur. They range from simple errors to severe mishaps that have to do with negligence during care. Even a seemingly innocent mistake could lead to severe injury or death.

  • Medication error - A patient receives the wrong drug or the wrong dose of medication. The doctor gives the drug to the wrong patient, at the wrong time, or the wrong way (intravenously vs. orally).
  • Wrong blood products - A patient receives incompatible or unsafe blood or blood product and has a hemolytic reaction (when your immune system destroys red blood cells) that causes death or severe disability.
  • Maternal labor or delivery errors - Mothers sustain serious injuries or die during labor or delivery despite having a low-risk pregnancy.
  • Baby labor or delivery errors - Babies sustain serious injuries or die during labor or delivery despite having a low-risk pregnancy.
  • Falls - A patient sustains serious injury or dies after falling in a healthcare setting (for example, an improperly restrained patient falls from a bed).
  • Ulcers - a patient acquires stage 3 or stage 4 ulcers after admission to a clinic or a hospital.
  • Wrong donor sperm or egg - Doctors erroneously inseminate a patient with the wrong donor egg or sperm.
  • Loss of biological specimen - A patient dies or sustains a severe injury because the doctor loses a biological specimen. For example, this can happen during an organ transplant.
  • Communication failure - A patient sustains a severe injury or dies when the healthcare provider does not give them the results of lab, pathology, or radiology tests.

You might be entitled to significant compensation if you or your loved one sustained injuries due to organizational mistakes in a healthcare setting.

5. Environment

Environmental factors can also become the basis for a medical malpractice lawsuit.

Even if healthcare providers do not seem to have a direct connection to the occurrence, it is their responsibility to ensure your safety.

  • Electric shock - A patient or a hospital staff member sustains injuries or dies due to an electric shock in a healthcare setting.
  • Gas - Anything related to delivering oxygen or another gas to a patient incorrectly, including wrong gas or contamination.
  • Burns - Patients sustain a burn from any source while in a hospital or clinic setting.
  • Restraints - A patient sustains injuries from bedrails or other restraints that doctors use to keep them in place during surgery or other treatment.

Environmental events may be easier to prove than care management and surgical error issues. Make sure you consult an attorney to determine whether your injury qualifies as a result of a never event.

6. Radiological Events

This medical error occurs when a patient sustains injuries while a metal object is in the MRI area.

A doctor must remove all metallic objects from the MRI area and ensure that the patient does not wear jewelry or carry any devices.

7. Potential Criminal Action

Potential criminal action can also qualify as negligence and allow you to collect damages.

  • Impersonation - A patient receives care from someone who impersonates a healthcare provider.
  • Abduction - The abduction of any patient regardless of their age (including infants).
  • Sexual assault - Sexual assault or abuse by the staff or anyone else while the patient is in a healthcare setting.
  • Physical assault - Physical assault or abuse by the staff or anyone else while the patient is in a healthcare setting.

While the potential criminal is facing charges, you can file a medical malpractice lawsuit.

What to Do After a Never Event

If you or your loved one became a victim of a never event, you must take steps to obtain fair compensation. If you can prove the healthcare provider’s negligence and provide sufficient evidence, the at-fault party should cover the event-related damages.

It is crucial to start taking action soon after the event occurs. While you may need time to recover from your injuries, delaying legal action could hurt your medical malpractice case. Many victims choose to delegate this task to a medical malpractice attorney.

Whether you decide to ask for professional legal assistance or try to handle your medical malpractice case on your own, you need to:

  • Collect as much evidence as possible (keep a journal every day after the accident)
  • File a medical malpractice lawsuit on time
  • Get ready for negotiations
  • Consider taking the case to court if you do not receive fair compensation

Medical malpractice lawsuits that involve never events are rarely easy to win. Healthcare providers and insurance companies often fight to minimize settlements and avoid financial responsibility.

How to Prove Negligence

Proving negligence is the key to obtaining compensation in your never-event case. In medical malpractice, you have to demonstrate four elements of negligence.

  • Duty of care - You must prove a doctor-patient relationship with the doctor who made an error. If such a relationship exists, the doctor automatically owes you the duty of care. This means they have to take the best care of you according to medical standards to the best of their knowledge.
  • Breach - The toughest part of proving negligence in a medical malpractice lawsuit is showing that the doctor breached their duty of care. To do that, you would need to prove that the doctor’s behavior fell below the standards of care.
  • Causation - You would have to prove that the doctor’s breach of duty of care was the primary cause of your injuries. For example, a doctor failed to read the chart and gave you the wrong medication.
  • Damages - To recover damages, you need to prove that the injuries you sustained led to specific damages, such as new medical bills, emotional distress, loss of income, loss of earning capacity, and the like.

A medical malpractice case can seem extremely straightforward (e.g., the doctor amputated the wrong leg). However, numerous nuances related to negligence still exist.

Victims who suffer the consequences of a never event must spend time and money dealing with their injuries. They rarely have sufficient legal experience to fight battles with healthcare providers and insurance companies.

Hospitals often win medical malpractice lawsuits or pressure victims into accepting a low settlement. That is why you need professional legal assistance. It amplifies your chances of winning a never event medical malpractice case and obtaining fair compensation.

Statute of Limitations

Many patients wait to recover before taking legal action against the healthcare provider who caused a never event. This often ends in disaster since you only have a specific time to file a lawsuit.

The statute of limitations for medical malpractice lawsuits is often shorter than for personal injury cases.

For example:

  • Pennsylvania - two years
  • New Jersey - two years
  • Florida - two years (vs. four years after personal injury)

If you decide to file a lawsuit after the period set by the statute of limitations is over, you could lose your chance to obtain compensation. Judges tend to dismiss such cases immediately.

However, some exceptions to the statute of limitations exist. You need to consult a medical malpractice attorney to determine if you qualify.

How Common Are Never Events?

Never events are not common. However, when they occur, many hospitals and other healthcare providers and facilities often try to downplay them. Some patients or their relatives never report these events.

Researchers from John Hopkins University conducted an extensive study of surgical never events.

They looked at almost 10,000 paid malpractice settlements and judgments and found:

  • The total payouts made up $1.3 billion.
  • 6 percent of never-event victims died.
  • 9 percent of never-event victims sustained permanent injuries.
  • 2 percent of never-event victims sustained temporary injuries.

Researchers estimate that around 4,082 surgical never events occur annually in the United States. Meanwhile, 12.4 percent of doctors who cause a surgical never event face at least one more similar lawsuit in the future.

Can You Prevent a Never Event?

While never events occur unexpectedly, there are a few things a patient can do to prevent them.

For example:

  • Choose your doctor and medical facility carefully.
  • Let your doctor know everything about your medical history.
  • Do not keep any medical information from your doctor, no matter how irrelevant it may seem.

Healthcare providers also work hard to prevent never events. They establish safety practice protocols, work on risk identification and prevention, educate their staff, and streamline data management.

Getting Compensation for Your Injuries

gabriel levin Attorney
Gabriel Levin | Medical Negligence Attorney

If you or your loved one suffered an injury after a never event, you have the right to seek compensation. Never events occur due to substantial negligence. Even if your injuries are not permanent, they can cause severe discomfort, expenses, and pain.

Working with a qualified medical malpractice attorney can get the compensation you deserve. Many medical malpractice lawyers offer free case evaluations. Take advantage of this opportunity to see if your case has merit.

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Gabriel Levin - Attorney

Gabriel Levin is a highly experienced and credible attorney with over 10 years of practice in Pennsylvania. Known for his tenacity, he has represented clients in a wide range of civil matters, trying hundreds of cases. He prepares each case as if it will go to trial, ensuring meticulous attention to detail.

Unlike many firms that delegate tasks, Levin personally handles every aspect of a case and maintains open communication with clients throughout. He has secured millions in compensation, making him a reliable choice for those seeking legal representation.

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