Hensley Cloninger & Greer, P.C. Hensley Cloninger & Greer, P.C.

What is a “Never Event”?

group of three people wearing hospital scrubs and masks looking down on a surgical table

In the medical field, there is almost always an assumption of risk that something could go wrong. However, this does not excuse the grossly negligent behavior that may occur and result in someone's severe injury or illness. When these consequences result from medical malpractice, they are often attributed to what is known as a "never event."

Definition of a Never Event

By legal definition, a "never event" describes an act of medical negligence that should never happen in the normal course of care. These events are considered so serious and egregious that they fall outside the standard margin for error and, therefore, must be held accountable as a form of medical malpractice.

Because of their potential severity, never events are increasingly being monitored by state and hospital officials to prevent them from happening. These efforts have resulted in various laws being enacted that require healthcare professionals to adhere to certain safety standards.

Examples of Never Events and How They Affect a Patient

There are many different types of never events that can occur, with varying degrees of severity. Some examples include:

  • Leaving a foreign object inside the patient’s body during surgery or procedure
  • Performing incorrect or unnecessary procedures
  • Administering an incorrect blood transfusion
  • Medication errors resulting in serious injury or death
  • Administering anesthesia incorrectly
  • Neglecting to monitor a patient’s vital signs, leading to serious complications

The consequences of never events can be severe. These medical mistakes can lead to added pain and suffering for the patient, as well as increased hospital bills, lost wages due to missed work opportunities, and in some cases, death.

Does Informed Consent Cover Never Events?

Informed consent is a process in which the patient agrees to treatment after being fully informed of all potential risks and benefits. This includes the possibility of harm or injury due to medical negligence. However, that does not mean that never events are always covered by informed consent. In some cases, the severity of the mistake can be so great that it falls outside the scope of what a patient could have expected, and therefore falls under medical malpractice.

Who Is At Fault?

When it comes to determining who is at fault for a never event, the answer will depend on the specific circumstances and facts associated with the case. Generally speaking, if a healthcare provider failed to meet the accepted standard of care and as a result caused injury or death, they can be held liable. However, the specific medical practice, such as the hospital or care center, the attending nurses who were involved in the procedure, and other professionals may assume some liability for not recognizing that a negligent action had taken place.

What to Do If You or a Loved One Experiences a Never Event

If you or a loved one has experienced a never event, it is important to act quickly. You may have the right to pursue a medical malpractice lawsuit in order to seek damages for any losses related to the incident. Consulting an experienced medical malpractice attorney can help you better understand your rights and options going forward.

An experienced lawyer can review your case and determine if you have a valid claim for medical negligence. The attorney will be able to help you understand the legal process, provide advice and guidance throughout the duration of your case, and ensure that your best interests are represented.

Contact Our North Carolina Attorneys

At Hensley Cloninger & Greer, P.C., our experienced team of North Carolina attorneys are here to help you explore your legal options after experiencing a never event. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out and contact us today. Call (828) 383-8414 or fill out this short form to discuss your options.

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