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Attorney Henry E. Valenzuela

The prevalence and consequences of never events in medicine

On Behalf of | Sep 25, 2023 | Medical Malpractice

Never events are medical errors that are so egregious that they should never occur under any circumstances. Despite their classification as “never” events, these errors do happen within the medical field. When they do occur, they often have serious consequences for Florida patients and healthcare providers alike.

Though relatively rare, never events remain a serious concern. Medical providers must do more to train and educate themselves and otherwise help prevent these dangerous occurrences.

The prevalence of never events

Never events encompass a range of serious medical errors, including wrong-site surgeries, surgical instruments left inside patients, medication errors and patient falls. The Patient Safety Network notes that many U.S. hospitals only experience never events every five-to-10 years. However, when they do occur, the consequences are often devastating, with more than 70% resulting in a patient’s death. These incidents may also result in a patient filing a medical malpractice claim in an attempt to secure compensation for related injuries.

The consequences of never events

The consequences of never events for patients can be catastrophic. Wrong-site surgeries or surgeries on the wrong patient can lead to irreversible harm, requiring additional procedures to correct the errors. Surgical instruments left inside a patient may cause severe internal injuries and infections.

Medication errors, such as administering the wrong medication or dosage, may have life-threatening consequences. Patients may experience adverse reactions, organ damage or even fatalities as a result of these errors. Patient falls, another category of never events, can result in fractures, head injuries and long-term disabilities, especially among elderly patients.

While never events lead to physical harm, they also have profound emotional and psychological effects. The trauma and distress caused by these errors can linger long after the physical wounds have healed. This may result in a patient experiencing anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.

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