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What are “never events” in health care?

| Mar 16, 2020 | Medical Malpractice

Medical mistakes are among the leading causes of death in this country, and many of those are related to diagnostic errors. Some, however, are due to errors that simply should never happen in a medical setting if proper protocols are being followed.

What are these “never” events? According to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), never events include things that increase a patient’s hospital stay, add to a patient’s overall medical expenses and increase the number of patient deaths.

Among those events that are deemed to be unambiguously wrong, preventable and serious, the government has listed the following kinds of medical mistakes:

  • Surgery performed on the wrong body part or patient
  • Performing the wrong surgical procedure
  • Surgery where a foreign object (like a towel, sponge or clamp) is left in a patient
  • The death of a healthy patient during surgery or while in post-op
  • Contaminated drugs, medical devices or biologics
  • Death associated with a malfunctioning medical device (like a faulty dialysis machine)
  • An intravascular air embolism (gas bubble) that leads to disability or death while in care
  • Discharging an infant to the wrong party
  • Patient elopement over four hours that results in death or disability (such as when a dementia patient wanders away and somehow leaves the building)
  • Patient suicide or serious self-harm while in a treatment facility
  • Death or disability from the wrong drug, wrong dosage or wrong administration
  • Incorrect transfer of blood
  • The death of a healthy woman in childbirth or post-childbirth while in the hospital
  • Serious pressure ulcers that occur in a medical facility
  • Spinal manipulation (including chiropractic care) that leads to disability or death
  • Contamination of a patient’s oxygen line with a toxic substance
  • Falls, burns and electric shocks that occur while in a medical facility
  • Abductions, sexual assaults, batteries and other violent harm while in a medical facility

Knowing the conditions included on this list can help you better understand when you should be suspicious that your loved one’s injury or death was entirely preventable. You cannot trust hospitals and doctors to be honest about their failings.

If your loved one suffered due to a preventable medical mistake, find out what rights you have to compensate for your losses.


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