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What are “Never Events” in a Medical Malpractice Case?


Recently, in Florida, there was a case that made the state and national news about a surgeon who improperly removed a woman’s kidney during a routine back surgery, mistakenly thinking it was a tumor. When doctors, surgeons, and other medical professionals commit significant, grievous errors during the treatment and care of their patients, it is known as a “never event.” These types of events always fall under the umbrella of medical malpractice, so it is important to understand what constitutes a never event and how often these events occur to see if you might have a claim against your healthcare provider for medical malpractice.

What is a Never Event?

A “never event” is a medical mistake so extreme that it is considered inexcusable in the medical community and in theory should never take place under any conditions. Unfortunately, never events happen far more often than people realize. Some of the most common never events include the following:

  • Surgical errors: includes performing surgery on the wrong patient, wrong body part, and leaving instruments, medical devices, or sponges inside the body after surgery
  • Product or device mistakes: includes the misuse of a medical device or use of a contaminated product or device that causes injury or death to a patient
  • Environmental events: includes errors in the operating room such as oxygen lines containing the wrong gas or no gas, electrical shocks, burns, and the use of restraints that cause serious injury or death
  • Radiological mistake: when a metal object is introduced into an MRI area, causing injury or death to the patient
  • Patient protection mistakes: includes discharging a patient to an unknown person, allowing a patient unable to care for themselves to discharge alone, and when a patient disappears from a medical facility and gets injured or killed. Attempted and successful suicides in a healthcare facility are also patient protection mistakes that can be considered a never event.
  • Medical care management mistakes includes medication errors, blood errors, harm to a pregnant mother or unborn child considered low risk, loss of a biological specimen or artificial insemination with the incorrect biological specimen, and serious injury or death to a patient because of failure in follow up care. Bed sores and falls in a medical facility may also be considered a never event.
  • Criminal acts: includes the assault, rape, murder, or other criminal act while a patient is in a medical facility that results in their injury or death. This also includes a person falsely impersonating a medical professional in the facility and the abduction of a patient from a medical facility.

If any of these situations arise, the medical professionals and healthcare facilities involved are considered directly liable for the harm caused to the victim as medical malpractice.

Call or Contact Us Today

Has one of these scenarios happened to you during medical treatment? If so, you likely have a valid claim for medical malpractice in Florida. Call the office or contact us today in West Palm Beach at Gary Roberts & Associates to speak with an experienced medical malpractice attorney today.




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