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What You Need to Know About Never Events



When a doctor makes an error, the consequences can be life-changing. Nowhere is this more accurate than when it comes to “serious reportable events” (also called never events). These are examples of medical malpractice so severe that they should never have been allowed to happen.

But what exactly are never events, and how would someone tell if they were affected?

What Is a Never Event?

Serious reportable events are examples of medical malpractice that are not only completely preventable, but that should have been obvious to medical staff. Almost all never events either significantly impact a patient’s long-term health and wellbeing or result in fatality. True to the name, serious reportable events typically result in an investigation from the board of medicine.

Specific examples of never events were originally defined by the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS), a government agency. Originally, there were 11 types of serious reportable events. More recently, The National Quality Forum (NQF) (a patient advocacy non-profit) added more scenarios, bringing the total to 28 serious reportable events.

What are Examples of Never Events?

The 11 never events that meet both CMS and NQF criteria include:

  • Surgery on the wrong body part
  • Surgery on the wrong patient
  • Wrong surgery on a patient
  • Foreign object left inside a patient after surgery
  • Death/disability due to air embolism
  • Death/disability due to incompatible blood transfusion
  • Death/disability due to a hypoglycemic incident
  • Stage 3 or Stage 4 pressure ulcers developed in a healthcare facility
  • Death/disability due to electric shock, burns, or a fall at a healthcare facility

Other examples that meet only NQF criteria and may warrant an investigation include:

  • Injury/death from contaminated materials
  • Death/disability due to medication error
  • Death/disability due to wrong oxygen or other gas
  • Baby discharged to the wrong family
  • Incorrect sperm donation used
  • Sexual assault at a healthcare facility
  • Impersonation of a doctor
  • Abduction from a healthcare facility

These events are inexcusable and often have severe repercussions. Therefore, it’s crucial that anyone who was impacted by one of these scenarios contact an experienced medical malpractice attorney immediately.

To schedule a free case consultation with an experienced Northwest Indiana medical malpractice attorney who cares, please don’t hesitate to give us a call at (219) 212-2462 so we can discuss your options.