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What Are Never Events In Malpractice Settlement Cases?


In medicine, we generally understand that in many cases, mistakes happen, and while these mistakes may constitute medical malpractice, and thus, negligence, they do happen. But there are some malpractice events that are so horrible, so careless, and so egregious, that they actually have their own category: Never Events.

What are Never Events?

The never event is something that is so careless, that it should never happen, under any circumstance. Some typical examples of never events may include:

-Doing surgery on the wrong body part, or on the wrong patient;

-Leaving objects inside the patient’s body after surgery;

-Allowing a child to go home with the wrong parent;

-Premature discharge of patients who cannot care for themselves;

-Death of the mother in an otherwise normal, low risk childbirth procedure;

-Artificial insemination errors;

-The development of bed sores or decubitus ulcers in a hospital setting; and/or

-A patient commits or tries to commit surgery, while still in the hospital.

This is not a comprehensive list; never events include various problems stemming from defective medical devices, or contaminated drugs.

How Often Do They Happen?

The good news is that according to some studies, these “never events” are somewhat rare. Some estimates say that a never event happens in the typical hospital only once every 5-10 years, but when they do happen, over 70% of them end up being fatal. Overall, it is believed that about 4,000 never events specifically related to surgeries happen in the United States every year.

The Federal Government has cracked down, saying that Medicare and Medicaid will not pay hospitals for costs associated with never events. Many private insurers have taken the same steps.

Many states now mandate the reporting of never events to the state, so that they can be tracked.

Attempts at Reform

A major nonprofit organization has proposed that whenever such “never events” happen, hospitals should immediately apologize to family, waive costs and expenses surrounding the event, do an analysis of how the event happened, and inform the families of the victims what the hospital will do, to avoid the problem in the future.

Of course, the victim would still maintain the right to sue for medical malpractice. These are just standards that patient advocacy organizations suggest hospitals should follow when a never event occurs.

Malpractice and Never Events

Additionally, patients should remember that even if there isn’t a so-called never event, that patients can still sue for malpractice—many forms of malpractice have nothing to do with never events. Never events may be easier to prove, and may be so obviously negligent, that it makes proof in a malpractice claim much easier.

But hospitals are slow to do these basic things and make suggested changes, even if they could lead to a reduction in never events. Many fear that apologizing will lead to medical malpractice lawsuits, or public criticism of the facility.

*Call the Fort Lauderdale personal injury attorneys at Rosen Injury Law today for help if you have been a victim of medical malpractice.

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