Can I File a Medical Malpractice Claim After Being the Victim of a Never Event?

Posted on behalf of Peter T. Nicholl in Medical Malpractice Published on March 29, 2023 and updated on May 15, 2023.

doctors in operating roomDoctors and hospitals make plenty of mistakes. Some are not a big deal and can even be reversed.

However, some mistakes have life-changing or even fatal outcomes. These mistakes are so egregious they never should have happened. For example, administering medication that induces an allergic reaction, even though doctors know about the patient’s allergy to the drug. These situations are called never events.

Victims of never events or their loved ones may be able to pursue a medical malpractice claim. This is because medical professionals who cause never events were not providing care that met acceptable medical standards.

Have you or your loved one been a victim of an egregious medical error? The Law Office of Peter T. Nicholl is here to help you explore legal options. Our Maryland medical malpractice attorneys have helped numerous victims of medical malpractice secure compensation for their damages. This includes several multi-million-dollar recoveries.

While we know compensation cannot change what happened, compensation is vital as victims and their families look to move forward.

Zero upfront costs or obligations. Call today: 410-401-9979.

What is a Never Event in Health Care?

Never event is a term that dates to 2001. According to the National Quality Forum (NQF), the term refers to 29 different medical events that cause death or significant disability and are usually preventable. NQF is a non-profit focused on improving healthcare outcomes.

The 29 events are split into seven categories:

Surgical Errors

Any surgery carries risks, but some risks are completely unacceptable. An example includes operating on the wrong side of a patient’s body, such as operating on the right arm when the left arm is the one that needs treatment. Another example is amputating the wrong limb.

Other surgical never events include:

  • Performing the wrong surgery
  • Operating on the wrong patient
  • Leaving foreign objects (sponges, scalpels, forceps, scissors, other surgical tools, etc.) inside the body during an invasive procedure
  • Healthy patients dying while being operated on or soon after surgery,

Errors with Products (Drugs or Medical Devices)

Sometimes patients are given drugs that are contaminated with some foreign substance. This could lead to severe side effects, such as dangerous infections. Doctors also need to be sure the tools and devices they use to treat patients are sanitary and are not going to cause infections.

Doctors need to make sure devices are functioning correctly. If a doctor uses a malfunctioning device and causes an injury, there may be a medical malpractice case.

If air bubbles enter a person’s veins or arteries, it could be fatal. Doctors need to make sure they do not allow errors that could result in potentially fatal injuries.

Another example of a product error is prescribing a drug to a patient even though the label says not to give the drug to that type of patient. For example, if a drug is not supposed to be prescribed to a pregnant woman but a doctor does it anyway and the baby suffers an injury in the womb or at birth.

Patient Protection/Monitoring

Doctors are not only responsible for providing medical treatment. They also need to monitor patients to keep them safe. For example, a hospital could be held liable if a patient leaves the hospital without being discharged and suffers a serious or fatal injury.

If a patient commits suicide while in a hospital or other medical facility, the facility may be liable for not monitoring the patient.

Another patient monitoring mistake is an improper discharge, such as discharging an infant to the wrong person.

Environmental Errors

Patients can get injured because of environmental factors, such as exposed electrical wiring or malfunctioning equipment that causes an electric shock. Sometimes restraints used during surgery can cause injury. It may also be possible for patients to suffer burns or get injured from contaminated oxygen.

Radiological Errors

Some patients cannot get MRIs because they have metallic objects implanted in their bodies, such as screws or plates or even a pacemaker. If a doctor orders an MRI for a patient with metal implanted in his or her body, serious or fatal injuries may result. Doctors and other medical staff must also make sure patients do not enter the room with jewelry or metal devices.

Care Management

There are numerous examples of care management never events, such as medication errors. These include giving the wrong drug to a patient or administering the incorrect dose.

Other examples of care management never events include:

  • Failing to properly monitor or restrain a patient who is a fall risk
  • Serious injuries to a mother who delivered a baby, even though it was a low-risk pregnancy
  • Administering the wrong blood type to a patient, which can result in death or disability
  • Errors during delivery of a baby that result in serious injuries
  • Losing a biological specimen during an organ transplant
  • Not providing the results of a medical test to a patient, resulting in severe injury to the patient
  • Insemination of the wrong donor sperm or egg

Criminal Actions

Sometimes patients are the victims of criminal actions, such as receiving care from someone who is impersonating a health care provider. Other examples of criminal activities that could injure patients include:

  • Abduction
  • Sexual assault by health care providers or anyone else in the health care setting
  • Physical assault

How Common are Never Events?

According to a study from Johns Hopkins University, approximately 80,000 never events occurred between 1990 and 2010, which is an average of about 4,000 per year.

This study revealed the wrong procedure was performed on a patient about 20 times per week. The study also found objects were left inside patients 39 times per week and the wrong body part was operated on 20 times per week.

One of the most alarming findings from this study is that many of the mistakes were made by surgeons who had a history of surgical errors.

This is one of the reasons it is so important for medical malpractice victims to pursue legal action. Legal action can help hold negligent doctors accountable and possibly prevent others from being harmed.

What Should Victims and Their Families Do After a Never Event?

Contacting a lawyer can be an important step after a never event. The legal process is complex and time-consuming and if you do not act fast, important evidence could be lost. Medical malpractice insurance companies will be gearing up to defend themselves and victims and their families need a strong advocate fighting for their interests.

If you or your loved one were injured because of a never event, you can call our firm to determine how we may be able to help. We can schedule a free legal consultation.

If you hire our firm, there are no upfront costs, and we are prepared to manage every step of the legal process. We can also provide guidance on how you can protect your claim and help us build a strong case. Our interests are the same as yours: securing full compensation for injuries and damages.

Proving a Never Event Constitutes Medical Malpractice

Medical malpractice cases are some of the most complex personal injury cases. Our lawyers must establish that the care you received fell outside of accepted medical standards. We must also prove this failure was the direct cause of your injuries.

Although never events are egregious examples of negligence, the liable parties are going to fight hard to avoid accountability. That is why you need an experienced law firm that can bring in the right experts to prove malpractice and help us establish the value of your claim.

The Law Offices of Peter T. Nicholl is Here for Medical Malpractice Victims

Medical negligence can have catastrophic consequences. Unfortunately, medical negligence is all too common. Although certain mistakes are called never events, they still happen.

When these things happen, victims want the medical professionals responsible to be held accountable. That is why victims need to consider contacting an experienced law firm that has taken on medical malpractice cases before and been successful.

Our experienced attorneys have helped many malpractice victims recover compensation for their injuries and damages. We have detailed knowledge of the law and the resources to seek the justice and compensation you need.

Free initial consultation. Call us today at: 410-401-9979.