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Medical Malpractice and “Never Events”


Everyone makes mistakes, even doctors and other medical professionals, but some mistakes are minor inconveniences, while others may cause debilitating and life-changing conditions. In 2011, the former CEO of the National Quality Forum coined the term “never event” to describe an occurrence, in a medical setting, that is “unacceptable and eminently preventable.” If you have experienced your own “never event,” you may be able to seek compensation for the harm you have suffered.

Several Types of “Never Events”

A study in the British Medical Journal estimates that around 5 percent of all patients (roughly 1 in 20) in hospital settings suffer some type of preventable harm while they are there, with 12 percent of those cases resulting in disability or death. The most common cause of that preventable harm was related to drugs, but a host of different reasons were seen to play a role. Generally, there are 4 types of “never events” identified by the study: communication errors, system failures, human error, and equipment failures. The National Quality Forum indexed those found in the relevant data, and came up with 27 separate events, including surgery on the wrong site, using contaminated or damaged surgical tools, or leaving foreign objects inside a patient.

In addition, any crimes committed against a patient by a doctor qualify as “never events.” Sexual abuse of a patient is the most common criminal “never event,” but others include patient abduction or the physical assault of a patient. One might think that since crime is not foreseeable, a hospital would not be held liable for any injuries related to someone committing a crime. However, hospitals are generally held to be responsible for patient welfare while they are inpatient, which does, in most situations, encompass injuries relating to crime.

CMS Will Not Pay

If you still intend to file suit against the doctor and the hospital who injured you, there are three major things you must establish in order to potentially prevail. You must show that a doctor-patient relationship existed between you and your doctor before the treatment in question happened. You must also show that you suffered tangible harm, and that the harm happened directly because of the doctor’s breach of the standard of care. A medical professional must adhere to a very specific standard of care – they must act in the way that the average reasonable medical professional of the same experience and talent would act, and if they do not, it is a strong indicator of negligence.

With all this information to process, it may feel too overwhelming or impossible to file suit against them. You may also be concerned about the possible expense. Something you should be aware of is that since 2008, Medicare has declined to cover treatment resulting from never events, instead preferring to “prevent these events rather than paying more as they occur.” While in theory, this pushes the costs onto hospitals, it can sometimes push injured plaintiffs into filing suit because they may not be able to cover their own medical bills without doing so.

Contact A Tampa Medical Malpractice Attorney

If you have experienced a “never event” and have been seriously injured or affected as a result, calling an experienced Tampa medical malpractice attorney from the Rinaldo Law Group can help you figure out how best to proceed, and what path is best for you and your family. Contact our offices today for a free consultation.





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