“Never events” are defined very simply. They are types of medical mistakes that should never happen. They are: serious (resulting in patient death or serious disability), unambiguous (clearly defined), and preventable. About 71% of never events result in patient death.
Never events were initially defined in 2001 by the National Quality Forum (NQF). The NQF was following-up on the emphasis on patient safety initiated by the Institute of Medicine (IOM)’s 1999 report, “To Err Is Human.” The IOM report called attention to the nationwide crisis in patient safety and pointed the way to many safety goals, most of which have not been achieved.
What Are Never Events
There are several lists of never events, which include from 27-29 events. Some of them are indeed rare, but others are shockingly common. Some of the most common never events include:
- Retained surgical object
- Wrong site surgery
- Wrong procedure
- Delayed treatment
- Pressure ulcers
The exact number of never events that occur every year is not known, but a recent study suggests they are not as rare as some doctors say. A 2012 Johns Hopkins study estimated that serious surgical errors alone, such as surgical objects left in patients and wrong site surgery, occurs about 4000 times a year. Retained surgical objects alone account for about 1500 medical errors a year.
Some Doctors Responsible for More Events
According to the Johns Hopkins study, more than 60% of doctors involved in never events were also involved in other medical malpractice suits. This follows up on a 2007 study by the group Public Citizen, which showed that just 5.9% of doctors were responsible for 57.8% of all medical malpractice payouts, and just 1% of doctors were responsible for 20% of payments!
The medical community does not do enough to punish doctors who repeatedly injure patients. According to Public Citizen, two thirds of doctors with ten or more payouts for medical malpractice are never disciplined by their medical boards.
If the medical community won’t punish these doctors, it’s up to us to make sure they pay for the injuries they cause.
If you or a loved one has been a victim of a never event, we can help. Please contact Andres & Berger in New Jersey today for a free initial consultation on your legal rights and options.