What are never events that can occur in a health care setting?

Health care "never events" are events that shouldn't happen, but do happen. The issue with never events is that these events are very serious. They can lead to significant disabilities or death. In most cases, never events are preventable.

How are never events classified?

Never events are grouped into six categories -- criminal, radiologic, environmental, care management, patient protection, product or device and surgical. There are a total of 29 events that are included in these six categories. Some examples of never events include patient suicide in a health care setting, wrong-site surgery, serious injury or death because of unsafe practices with blood products and incidents pertaining to the use of contaminated or defective medical devices.

How common are never events?

Most never events are rare; however, a 2013 study noted that more than 4,000 of these events occur each year in the United States. Despite the fact that these events are rare, they are devastating. Events reported to the Joint Commission show that 71 percent of these events over a 12-year period were fatal.

Any person who is obtaining medical care in a health care facility is at risk of a never event. When the patient suffers serious injuries because of a never event, long-term and intensive medical care is often needed. When the patient dies because of a never event, the family members left behind have to cope with the unexpected loss of their loved one. In both cases, it is possible to seek compensation to help offset the expenses that are related to the damages caused by the never event.

Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, "Never Events," accessed Nov. 18, 2015

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