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What Is a Never Event?


All surgical procedures – elective or otherwise – carry a risk of injury and death. However, the global medical community recognizes that most surgical errors are the result of gross human negligence. For example, many health care facilities in the United States function as for-profit businesses. Because hospital administrators prioritize the needs and interests of their investors, they often pressure surgeons to cycle through as many patients as possible to maximize their daily profitability. This exhausting business model turns patients into numbers and increases the likelihood of a surgical “never event.”

What are Never Events?

Jitendra Kumar and Rajni Raina, the authors of “’Never Events in Surgery’: Mere Error or Avoidable Disaster” define never events as, “errors in medical care that are clearly identifiable, preventable, and serious in their consequences for patients, and that indicate a real problem in the safety and credibility of a health care facility.”

In their study, they recognize four types of never events:

  • communication errors
  • human errors
  • equipment failures
  • system failures

List of Never Events in the Medical Field

Examples of never events include, but are not limited to:

  • Performing surgery on the wrong body part or patient.
  • Accidentally damaging a patient’s organs, tissues, and/or nerves.
  • Leaving foreign objects, such as surgical tools, inside a patient.
  • Transfusing incompatible organs or blood.
  • Administering the wrong medication or overdosing a patient.
  • Using contaminated tools and/or equipment.

There are certain steps a hospital needs to take if a never event occurs. For instance, attending physicians and staffers need to do everything in their power to save the patient. Administrators also need to take a proactive stance by apologizing to the patient, waiving any associated medical fees, and reporting the event to an outside agency, such as the Patient Safety Organization or the Joint Commission. Unfortunately, most hospitals will try to cover up a never event or pretend that the surgeon is protected by liability waivers. In this circumstance, a patient’s only recourse is to file a medical malpractice claim.

Per Alaska Statutes section 09.55.540, your legal team needs to prove the following factors to secure a positive case result:

  • There was a doctor-patient relationship.
  • The defendant failed to provide an acceptable standard of care.
  • The plaintiff suffered physical and/or financial damages as a result of this failure.

Understanding the Statute of Limitations

In Alaska, all personal injury and medical malpractice claims are governed by specific deadlines. This time limit is known as the statute of limitations. Per state law, a plaintiff has 2 years from the date of a never event to file a lawsuit against any negligent parties. Of course, there are exceptions to this policy – such as the discovery rule – that can influence a plaintiff’s path to restitution. For this reason, it’s critical that you retain the services of an experienced medical malpractice attorney before filing a claim and pursuing justice.

Rely on 20+ Years of Experience. Schedule a Free Consultation Today

Contact the Law Offices of David Henderson if you or a loved one has been grievously harmed by the careless actions of a doctor or surgeon. I have been representing the victims of medical malpractice incidents since 1998. I know how to investigate the never event, research the attending surgeon’s career history, and consult with medical professionals to develop a litigation strategy that proves the hospital and its staff violated the medical standard of care. With my help, you can recover damages that provide for your existing and potential medical expenses, loss of earning capacity, pain and suffering, and more.

Call the Law Offices of David Henderson at (888) 295-6566 to schedule a free consultation today. I am not afraid to litigate against hospital insurance companies and legal teams if it means obtaining justice and restitution on your behalf.