A closer look at the danger of never events

On Behalf of | Jun 24, 2019 | Medical Malpractice |

No one should have to suffer from a serious medical error. When individuals face a medical emergency, they want to know that medical professionals will help resolve the problem, not make it worse. Most often, we can trust our medical providers with our healthcare.

However, there are more risks of medical malpractice than many might believe. In 2016, Johns Hopkins Medicine reported that medical errors were the third leading cause of death in the country. And most—if not all—of these cases are preventable and should never happen in the first place. That is why many cases of medical malpractice are called never events.

What are never events?

Never events are so called because they should never occur. However, the Becker Hospital Review states that an average of more than 4,000 never events happen each year.

The most common of these events include:

  • Surgeries on the wrong patient or wrong site
  • A failure to diagnose that leads to delayed treatment
  • Medication errors, such as improper administration of chemotherapy
  • Death from improper safety conditions, such as falls out of hospital windows

Never events are often extreme, though generally, any incident of medical malpractice could be a never event.

The high standard of care should prevent all never events

These events should never happen due to the high standard of care that all medical professionals must uphold.

The medical standard of patient care is not only a critical factor in every medical case but also in every incident of medical malpractice. The elements of a medical professional’s standard of care require a medical professional to:

  • Possess the proper qualifications and skills
  • Provide reasonable attention and care to each patient
  • Act in good faith and in the best interest of the patient

It is this standard of care that makes medical negligence unacceptable. These elements might sound rather basic, but the essence of the standard of care is that all medical professionals must provide the best possible care to their patients to the best of their abilities.

Should you worry about never events?

Never events might be rare, but these preventable accidents do still occur at alarming rates for incidents that should never happen.

Several agencies, including the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), are working to eliminate never events entirely. The goal is to:

  • Increase liability and accountability of hospitals
  • Raise the standards to improve the quality of care
  • Investigate all root causes of these events to prevent them

With these efforts, in addition to how rare never events are, Virginians likely do not have to worry too much about suffering from a never event. However, it is critical for individuals and their families to work with medical professionals they know they can trust to reduce the chances of medical malpractice.