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What are "never events" in medicine?

On Behalf of The Foley Law Firm | March 29, 2021
What are "never events" in medicine?

Of all the things that might go wrong with a patient's medical care, there are certain events that should never, ever happen.

The vast majority of these "never events" include wrong-site, wrong-procedure and wrong-patient errors (WSPEs). They're called "never events," because they're incredibly easy to prevent in the first place.

How common are "never" events?

Data published in 2019 by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality indicates that WSPEs happen about once per 112,000 surgeries, a ratio that equates to once every five or ten years for most medical centers.

Some medical analysts suggest that WSPE incident rates could be twice the amount reported above since that statistic only accounts for errors occurring in operating rooms. The analysts suspect that WSPEs may be quite high among interventional radiologists and at ambulatory surgical centers.

What has been done to minimize the incident rate of never events?

Researchers have identified measures to reduce WSPEs in recent years. One approach is to have doctors sign the body part that they plan to operate on. Another strategy has been to have surgeons take a "time out" to discuss the procedure with the surgical team before operating on a patient.

One of the biggest obstacles that medical facilities have faced in reducing WSPE incident rates is a lack of universal application of these error avoidance strategies.

What is the long-term prognosis for patients who fall victim to never events?

Patients often suffer severe, permanent harm or die after enduring wrong-procedure, wrong-site or wrong-patient events. You owe it to yourself or your loved one's memory to not let their pain and suffering go unpunished. An attorney can help you learn how medical malpractice laws work in Colorado and advocate for your family's future.

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