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Everyone makes mistakes—but healthcare providers hold life and death in their hands.  While some minor errors are perhaps inevitable, serious, shocking medical mistakes should never occur.

In 2001, Dr. Ken Kizer coined the term “Never Event,” as a description for extraordinarily severe medical mistakes that should never happen.  Never Events may also be referred to as “sentinel events,” and “Serious Reportable Events (SREs).”  In 2011, the National Quality Forum (NQF) put together a list of 29 of these negligent mistakes.  Among others, the list currently includes:

  • Surgery or other invasive medical procedure performed on the wrong body part, or the wrong patient.
  • The wrong surgery or invasive procedure performed on a patient.
  • Deposit of a foreign object inside a patient during surgery or an invasive procedure.
  • Death of an otherwise healthy patient during or after surgery that is associated with errors in anesthesia, oftentimes an overdose of anesthesia.
  • Patient death caused by the use of contaminated devices, drugs, or pharmaceutical products.
  • Self-harm, a fall, or disappearance of a patient that results in serious injury while being cared for in a healthcare setting.
  • Death or injury caused by medication errors.
  • Serious injury or death suffered by low-risk mothers or their babies during hospital labor and delivery.
  • Artificial insemination with the wrong egg or sperm.
  • Death or serious injury caused by the loss of an irreplaceable biological specimen.
  • Patient death or serious injury that results from a failure to communicate laboratory or other test results.
  • Death or injury of a patient due to a metallic object left in the MRI environment.

Mistakes That Should Never Happen—But Do

While not comprehensive, this list offers an idea of the types of medical mistakes that should never occur—but do.  As medical malpractice attorneys, we routinely work with grieving families and injured parties who have been subjected to medical errors for which there is no excuse or rationale.

A 2017 report from the non-profit organization, The Joint Commission appears to show sentinel events on the decline. Yet the report clearly notes the limitation of the data collection. It reads:

“The reporting of most sentinel events to The Joint Commission is voluntary and represents only a small proportion of actual events.  Therefore, these data are not an epidemiologic data set and no conclusions should be drawn about the actual relative frequency of events or trends in events over time.”

Data collected from a national non-profit organization, the Leapfrog Group, suggests only 78 percent of hospitals surveyed have implemented policies concerning effective response to Never Events.  The group drives initiatives to improve hospital safety across the US and provides information to consumers about their healthcare choices.

It is important to understand the safety record of the doctors and facilities you choose to treat your family.  But an unthinkable medical mistake may still happen to you, or someone you love.  If it does, contact an experienced medical malpractice attorney for dedicated legal service to help you and your family move forward.

Speak with a Skilled Medical Malpractice Attorney Today

With offices in Baltimore, Maryland, and Washington, D.C, the legal team at Schochor, Staton, Goldberg, and Cardea, P.A. provides committed, trusted legal service if you suffer a Never Event or other form of medical negligence.  Contact us or call 410-234-1000 to schedule a free consultation to discuss your case.