Tackling never events

Media outlets report stories about outrageous never events that occur in hospitals. But there are many lesser known never events that also occur the public may not be aware of.

The media continuously reports on dramatic stores about physician and hospital negligence. Extreme incidents like the retention of unintended objects left inside a patient's body or the amputation of the wrong body part have all been sensationalized.

And although these cases have happened and are catastrophic to victims and their families, there are so many lesser known "never events, as they are often referred to, that also occur.

According to the National Qualify Forum-a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that facilitates healthcare standards and qualify in the U.S.-adverse never events have a tremendous impact on unnecessary lives lost each year in the United States. Every year, the NQF estimates that over 2 million healthcare acquired conditions kill patients seeking care in hospitals and healthcare facilities all across the country. And, out of this number, 90,000 die.

But what are never events? What situations are classified as never events?

What are never events?

Never events are essentially adverse events, injuries, or death that occurs to patients in hospitals and other healthcare facilities that are unnecessary and should simply never happen. They typically occur because of a blatant failure of omission of a physician, nurse, or healthcare facility.

The NQF has developed and compiled a list of never events, or what the association refers to as serious reportable events. SREs, as they are known, are classified as generally preventable, identifiable, measurable, adverse, and of concern to both the public and professionals in the healthcare industry.

List

Along with incorrect amputations, the following SREs that are on the list include but are not limited to injury or death associated with:

  • Blood transfusions with the wrong blood type
  • Contaminated drugs or devices
  • Hospital-acquired infections
  • Bedsores
  • Premature patient discharge
  • Low risk pregnancies
  • Incorrect use of bedrails or physical restraints

The list of such events is continuously updated to account for new data. The list also changes to provide for the expanded areas where patients receive care, such as skilled nursing facilities where nursing home abuse and negligent incidents often occur.

For a comprehensive list, individuals are encouraged to visit the National Qualify Forum's list of SREs.

Legal recourse

Individuals or loved ones who believe they have been the victim of a never event or SRE are encouraged to speak with a legal professional experienced in medical malpractice issues in the jurisdiction where the incident occurred. A lawyer can explain the law, how it applies to specific circumstances, and potential legal recourse options available.

Keywords: medical malpractice, never events