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Boston Personal Injury Attorney > Blog > Medical Malpractice > “Never Events” in Medical Malpractice Should Never Happen

“Never Events” in Medical Malpractice Should Never Happen


Malpractice happens, and it is often the result of some error or omission that should not have occurred, but did. And while all malpractice is bad, and to some degree, preventable with the exercise of due care, there is now another category of malpractice that is being recognized in the medical community: The never event.

Examples of never events

As the name implies, a never event is something that should just quite simply should never happen. It is not the result of an honest mistake, or some error in judgment, but rather, a never event is the result of abject carelessness; a recklessness that could only happen when all due care is ignored.

Typical never events may include:

1)      Leaving an object inside someone during a medical procedure

2)      Conducting a medical procedure on the wrong body part, or even on the wrong patient

3)      Allowing patients (particularly the old or inform) to leave a hospital, when it is clear that they are not able to care for themselves

4)      Allowing bed sores to form because a patient is not being moved or monitored.

5)      Allowing a baby to go home with the wrong set of parents

6)      Death or serious injury to a woman during an otherwise normal and complication free childbirth

7)      Allowing a patient to kill him or herself

Rare But Deadly

Because of their seriousness, and because of the fact that a hospital or medical provider needs to be completely careless for these to happen, never events are thankfully rare. Most never events will occur in a typical hospital only one time in a span of between 5-10 years, and while that is a good thing, just under 75% of all never events end up being fatal.

Crackdowns on never events

Because never events are, with the exercise of due care, considered preventable, the government and even private health insurance companies are trying to crack down on them. Both insurers, and Medicaid and Medicare, have said that they will cease paying hospitals for patient expenses related to never events.

Patient advocacy groups are now pushing for reforms. Many are pushing hospitals to waive any and all medical expenses that patients incur when never events should happen.

They also are calling for accountability, asking that hospitals conduct full investigations into the events that lead up to the never events. Families, the organization say, should be issued a formal apology and then told what the hospital will do to avoid never events from happening in the future.

But hospital compliance with these recommendations is strictly voluntary, and many who may fear that admitting fault could lead to lawsuits (or very bad media and publicity), will likely not voluntarily comply.

From a legal standpoint, malpractice is malpractice regardless of whether it involves a never event or not, although a never event may be so blatantly careless, that it may allow a victim or the family to recover damages that much quicker or easier.

If you have been injured as a result of a medical error from a doctor or hospital, contact us today for help.  Call our Boston personal injury lawyers at The Law Office of Joseph Linnehan, Jr. today at 617-275-4200.




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