Our Blogs

Understanding “Never Events”

Written by Berkowitz

doctor with a chart and formsDespite the widespread use of the term “never events,” it is often misunderstood and misused. The National Quality Forum (NQF) calls never events Serious, Reportable Events (SREs), and they originally started compiling a list of these events that occurred in hospitals in 2002. Since then, they have created a comprehensive list of SREs that are involved in medical malpractice claims across the country.

Why Never Events Matter

Never events involve healthcare errors, errors that are the leading cause of morbidity and mortality in the United States, according to Advances in Patient Safety: From Research to Implementation. These adverse events are required by state law to be reported; however, most medical and hospital errors are still grossly underreported in the country. These lapses in patient safety are a major medical quality concern and are much more common than statistics reflect. Additionally, a vast majority of these lapses in quality of care are preventable and often due to negligence.

Common Never Events

The National Quality Forum has a detailed list of never events, which include categories like:

  1. Surgical or Invasive Procedure Events – This includes performing surgery on the wrong site, invasive procedures performed on the wrong patient, leaving a foreign object in a body post-surgery, and unnecessary surgery.
  2. Product or Device Events – This includes contaminated drugs or devices, using devices in ways that were not intended, or causing a deadly intravascular air embolism.
  3. Patient Protection Events – This can include discharging a patient negligently, allowing a patient to disappear, and patient suicide or attempted suicide while being cared for.
  4. Care Management Events – This involves medication errors, unsafe administration of blood products, falling while being under the care of a professional, error in artificial insemination, failure to follow up or communicate, etc.
  5. Environmental Events – Death associated with electric shock, failure to administer oxygen, use of physical restraints, burns, and any other danger a patient is unnecessarily exposed to in their environment.
  6. Radiologic Events – This includes introduction of a metallic object into the MRI.
  7. Criminal Events – Injury by a person impersonating a health care professional, abduction of a patient, sexual abuse of a patient, physical assault, etc.

Never Events and Medical Malpractice

Because never events are events that the NQF states should never occur, a patient who has suffered from a never event listed on the NQF site most likely has a claim for medical malpractice. Every never event listed by the NQF is serious and preventable, and only occurs when a healthcare professional has acted negligently.

Contact a Medical Malpractice Attorney – Call Berkowitz and Hanna LLC

If you or someone you love was harmed by a never event, you are encouraged to seek legal representation. The team at Berkowitz and Hanna LLC can help you recover damages for your never event-related injuries. Contact us online to schedule a consultation.