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What is a “Never Event”?

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Posted on March 21, 2024

A “Never Event” is a type of serious medical error that should never occur in a healthcare setting. These mistakes may constitute medical malpractice.

Examples of Never Events:

  1. Performing surgery on the wrong body part or the wrong patient.
  2. Leaving a foreign object (e.g., a sponge or instrument) inside a patient after surgery.
  3. Administering the wrong type of blood or blood product.
  4. Causing severe bedsores (pressure ulcers) in a patient.
  5. Giving a patient the wrong medication or an incorrect dosage of medication.
  6. Patient death or serious disability associated with a fall while being cared for in a healthcare facility.

Never Events are considered sentinel events that signal a serious underlying problem in the healthcare system’s safety processes and protocols. Healthcare organizations are expected to have robust systems in place to prevent these types of errors from occurring, and they are typically required to report and investigate Never Events when they do happen.

What to Do if You’re Injured Because of a Never Event

  1. Consult a medical malpractice lawyer. Never Events are considered deviations from the standard of care. An experienced lawyer can review your case and advise if you have grounds for a medical malpractice claim.
  2. File a complaint. You can file a complaint with the state’s medical board or health department which oversees healthcare facilities.
  3. Pursue compensation. If negligence is established, you may be able to receive compensation for additional medical costs, lost income, pain/suffering, etc. through a settlement or lawsuit.


Identifying a list of healthcare ‘never events’ to effect system change –