“Never events” can devastate patient health
“Never event” is a term that is used to describe medical errors so shocking that they should never occur to Florida patients. It was originally coined to describe events like surgery on the wrong location, but has since been expanded to involve harmful medical events that are unambiguous, serious and typically preventable. In most cases, these are clearly identifiable mistakes that result in serious disabilities or even death. There are 29 different types of never events officially classified in seven categories.
These include surgery on the wrong body part or patient, leaving a foreign object inside a patient, death or injury caused by contaminated items, serious aftereffects of a patient disappearance, severe medication errors or blood transfusion mistakes, health care ordered by someone impersonating a doctor and sexual assault of a patient. Most of these serious incidents are quite rare. In one study conducted in 2006, hospitals were found to have a wrong-site surgery performed once every five to 10 years. However, when these incidents do occur, they are catastrophic; 71 percent of never events reported over the last 12 years were fatal. And while they are uncommon at any given health care facility, the numbers add up. One study estimated that 4,000 surgical never events happen every year in the United States.
Health care facilities are under public and regulatory pressure to minimize mistakes, especially those with such severe consequences. In August 2007, the federal government announced that Medicare will not pay for additional costs associated with preventable medical and surgical errors.
Medical mistakes can be devastating to a patient’s life and future. People who have been seriously injured due to a doctor’s misconduct can consult with a medical malpractice attorney about the potential to seek compensation for their damages, including pain and suffering, medical costs and lost wages.