Understanding Never Events

In March 2019, a woman sued Vanderbilt University Medical Center for $25 million dollars after a doctor allegedly operated on the wrong kidney, damaging her urinary system and requiring her to undergo dialysis for the rest of her life. This patient was the victim of a never event.

Unless you work in healthcare, it’s unlikely that you’ve heard the term never event. These egregious occurrences typically result in permanent disability or death. Never events are avoidable and constitute medical malpractice. Fortunately never events are rare, but they happen far too often. Understanding never events might help you avoid one of these devastating injuries.

If you or a loved one has suffered a severe injury or died during medical diagnosis, treatment, or aftercare, you need to seek the counsel of a medical malpractice attorney as soon as possible. Contact Boohoff Law at (877) 999-9999 for a free consultation to discuss your case. Below you can learn more about never events.

What Is a Never Event?

In 2001, the former CEO of the National Quality Forum (NQF), Dr. Ken Kizer, introduced the concept of a never event. These events refer to shocking medical errors that should never occur, like the previous Vanderbilt example. As years have gone on, medical professionals and administrators have expanded the definition to include severe adverse events that are usually preventable and result in disability or death. Currently, the never event list includes 29 “serious reportable events” divided into seven categories.

  • Surgical or procedural events include surgeries or procedures on the wrong person and the wrong body part, as well as performing the wrong surgery or procedure on a patient. Leaving foreign objects in one’s body and fatality due to improper anesthesia are also included in this group of never events.
  • Product or device events include death or injury as a result of contaminated drugs or devices provided in a healthcare setting, as well as injury or death associated with the improper use of a device in patient care. Intravascular air embolisms caused in a health care setting are also never events.
  • Patient protection events refer to instances when a medical facility discharges or releases a patient or resident to an unauthorized person, and death or injury related to that release or disappearance. Medical professionals have a duty to protect patients and residents; never events also include a patient who attempts suicide, commits suicide, or commits any other type of self-harm.
  • Care management events are the most plentiful of all never events. Several types of events fall under the umbrella of care management, including death or injury related to medication error or unsafe administration of blood products. Death or injury to the mother or baby during labor and delivery of a low-risk pregnancy and artificial insemination using the wrong sperm or egg are also never events. Death or injuries resulting from a fall, bed sores, and loss of biological specimens while being cared for in a health care facility constitute further care management never events. Finally, death or injury resulting from the failure to provide test results, whether from the laboratory, pathology, or radiology.
  • Environmental events include death or disability as a result of electric shock, a mix up in oxygen or gas lines, and the toxic contamination of gas or oxygen lines. An environmental never event also might result from a burn during patient care or improper use of restraints or bed rails that lead to disability or death.
  • Radiologic events are extremely rare, but can occur when injury or a fatality occurs after some sort of metal object has been brought into the MRI area.
  • Criminal events might be the most egregious of all never events because they often include an intent to harm or outright neglect. Any time someone impersonates a medical professional, abducts a patient or resident, or abuses a patient or resident, a crime has occurred in addition to a never event. Physical assault and battery in a healthcare setting is also a never event when it results in a significant injury or death.

How Often Do Never Events Occur?

Very little research has focused on never events broadly, and only some groups of events have received special attention. The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), a division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, reports that most never events are extremely rare. The few studies that address never events focus on surgical errors. A 2006 study estimates that the average hospital might perform a wrong-site surgery every five to ten years, and a later 2013 study reveals more than 4,000 surgical never events occur each year in the United States. Although the likelihood of experiencing a never event is low, when they do occur, more than 70 percent result in death, suggesting a severe failure in safety practices at the medical facility where the event occurred.

Hire Our Skilled Medical Malpractice Attorneys After Experiencing a Never Event

Some never events immediately cause severe injury or death, in other cases a victim might not discover their injury for some time. This is especially common when a foreign object gets left inside of a patient’s body or when artificial insemination goes wrong.

Under Washington law, you must take legal action within three years of the date of injury, or within one year of discovering your injury, whichever is longer. Although some exceptions exist, any malpractice claim must be made within eight years from the date of injury under Washington’s statute of repose for medical malpractice cases. Your attorney will advise you of any exceptions that might apply to your case.

If you or a loved one has suffered a severe injury or died as a result of a never event, no amount of money can undo the damage. Yet, seeking compensation for damages can help alleviate some or all of the financial burden which often accompanies severe injury. If you live in the Seattle area, contact the experienced medical malpractice lawyers at Boohoff Law online or call at (877) 999-9999 to schedule a free consultation to discuss how we can assist you.

The Most Dangerous Intersections in Seattle

Seattle area residents get to live and work in one of the nation’s most cosmopolitan cities. In addition to its diverse food options and world-class dining, Seattle has a thriving arts and entertainment scene and ample cultural activities that draw visitors from around the world. This hub of activity, including some of the world’s largest companies, lie among picturesque views of the mountains and seascapes. Yet, with all its beauty and glory comes a price—Seattle’s hustle and bustle create risk for pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorists.

To help keep you safe, we dug into the Seattle Department of Transportation’s (SDOT) collision data to compile a list of the most dangerous intersections in the city. First, let’s have a look at how we chose the intersections, followed by some of the general trends about the most dangerous intersections.

How Did We Choose the Most Dangerous Intersections in Seattle?

SDOT has collected and recorded collision data since 2004 for the greater Seattle area. They provide information such as whether a collision occurred at an intersection or in the middle of the block, whether an injury or fatality occurred, and whether two vehicles crashed or a motor vehicle hit a pedestrian or bicyclist. Other sources have used SDOT’s data to compile a list of the most dangerous intersections of Seattle over 10 or more years. While this is great information for those who live in Seattle, it doesn’t offer a complete picture.

Like many other U.S cities, Seattle has implemented a Vision Zero program in recent years. This program’s mission is to eliminate crashes, fatalities, and injuries on Seattle’s roads. Lists of Seattle’s most dangerous intersections that span more than a decade or include all of SDOT’s collision data don’t account for progress resulting from the implementation of Vision Zero projects. For a more up-to-date and complete view of Seattle’s most dangerous intersections, we used SDOT’s open data portal to look at all collisions that occurred in 2018 at Seattle intersections. We excluded property damage only collisions and kept crashes that resulted in injuries, serious injuries, or fatalities.

Trends Across Intersection Collisions in Seattle

Our search parameters found 1,878 traffic collisions in 2018 resulting in more than 2,500 injuries and seven fatalities in Seattle’s intersections. A little more than 28 percent (529) of these collisions occurred when it was dark out. In all but 29 of these nighttime collisions, streetlights were on. More than 1,200 of the accidents (64.5 percent) occurred during daylight hours. The remainder of the collisions occurred at dawn, dusk, or the collision report didn’t record light conditions. Some other broad statistics about intersection crashes in 2018 include:

  • 19 percent of collisions when a motor vehicle struck a pedestrian
  • A little less than 7 percent of collisions involved motor vehicles that struck bicyclists
  • About two-thirds (67.4 percent) of accidents at Seattle intersections in 2018 were between two or more motor vehicles
  • 71 percent of collisions occurred on dry roads
  • About 18 percent of crashes occurred during the rain, a handful occurred during snow or ice, and the remained occurred on clear or overcast days
  • None of the seven fatalities in 2018 occurred at intersections with more than five accidents

Seattle’s Most Dangerous Intersections in 2018

Below are the most dangerous intersections in Seattle, beginning with the intersection with the most injury or fatality-causing crashes:

James Street and Sixth Avenue

James and Sixth has continuously topped the list of Seattle’s most dangerous intersections. In 2018, eight injury-causing accidents occurred at this intersection, but SDOT estimates 101 injury crashes have occurred since 2004, 28 more than the next most dangerous intersection. Fortunately, James and Sixth is located near the courthouse and across the expressway from Harborview Medical Center’s Emergency Department.

Boren Avenue and Pike Street

Located near the Villa Apartments, only a block from the Washington State Convention Center, lies Seattle’s next most dangerous intersection—Boren Avenue and Pike Street. This intersection also saw eight traffic accidents in 2018, resulting in three injured pedestrians among the injury victims. This high foot traffic area has been plagued with pedestrian accidents as well as motor vehicle and bicycle accidents for decades, with 67 collisions since 2004.

Lake City Way NE and NE 130th Street

Situated about seven miles northeast of downtown Seattle in the city’s Lake City neighborhood, the intersection of Lake City Way NE & 130th Street served as the locale for eight accidents in 2018, also including a few pedestrian injuries. As a major thoroughfare in the northeast part of the city, Lake City Way intersections were the sites for several accidents in 2018.

Dexter Avenue North and Thomas Street

In 2018, seven crashes occurred at the intersection of Dexter and Thomas in downtown Seattle. This area is home to some of the big chain hotels popular with tourists because of its close proximity to the Space Needle and the Museum of Pop Culture. This area remains dangerous for bicyclists—five out of the seven collisions took place between a motor vehicle driver and a cyclist. Fortunately, no fatalities occurred at Dexter and Thomas in 2018.

The remaining dangerous intersections in Seattle each had six collisions in 2018 and are scattered in different areas of the city. In no particular order, they include:

  • 15th Avenue NE and NE Pacific Street
  • Fifth Avenue and University Street
  • Corson Avenue South and South Michigan Street
  • South Dawson Street and East Marginal Way
  • Rainier Avenue South and South Henderson Street
  • Rainier Avenue South and South Massachusetts Street

Contact Our Skilled Attorneys After an Accident at One of Seattle’s Dangerous Intersections

If you or a loved one has suffered an injury after a car, truck, bike, or pedestrian accident at one of Seattle’s dangerous intersections, you might qualify for compensation. Washington law entitles you to sue for damages in civil court if your accident resulted from another party’s negligent actions. Contact the experienced attorneys at Boohoff Law in Seattle at (877) 999-9999 to schedule a free consultation to discuss the details of your accident and injury, and determine the best path forward for your circumstances.

New Drivers and the Rules of the Road: Keeping Your Teen Safe This Summer

Summer is almost upon us, which means your teen will be on break. Whether commuting to and from a summer job or spending time with their friends, your teen is sure to want to get some time behind the wheel. Finding the balance between trusting your teen behind the wheel and preventing an accident has given parent sleepless nights for ages.

In fact, motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death among teenagers in the U.S. according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), with those between 16 and 19 facing three times the risk of a fatal crash than those above age 20. While it might be tempting to make your new driver ride their bicycle until they are 30, you can help keep them safe this summer with some of the following tips, but first, let’s look at Washington’s laws for teen drivers.

Intermediate License Restrictions for New Drivers in Washington

New drivers under age 18 receive an intermediate license when they pass their drivers’ test. An immediate license automatically turns to a regular license once a driver turns 18, but until that occurs, an intermediate license holder must follow these traffic laws:

Driving With Passengers

For the first six months, your teen cannot have any passengers under age 20 unless they are immediate family members, such as siblings. This means that if your teen recently got their license, they cannot spend summer nights cruising around with friends in the car, or they face penalties. After the first six months of an intermediate license, your teen may have passengers under age 20 who aren’t family members as long as there are no more than three. Passengers cause distractions, so you might want to enforce your own driving rule to extend the no passenger rule or only allow one or two friends in the car with your teen driver.

Driving at Night

Driving when it’s dark is dangerous for adults, let alone new drivers who don’t have the experience to react to fatigued drivers and drunk drivers who might be on the road when it’s late. Under Washington law, your teen cannot drive between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. unless they have a licensed driver over age 25 in the car. The law does make exceptions for teen drivers who are transporting farm products or supplies for agricultural purposes.

Cell Phone Use

Adult drivers in Washington can use a cell phone when operating a vehicle as long as it is hands-free. Washington law strictly prohibits cell phone and other wireless device use while driving for those under age 18. This means your teen cannot talk or text on their phone and may only use their phone to call 911 for an emergency.

If your teen doesn’t abide by the previous license restrictions, and law enforcement catches them in the act, you can expect a warning letter home for the first offense. A second offense will result in a six month suspension, and a third offense will result in a mandatory suspension until age 18.

Tips to Keep Your Teen Driver Safe

New drivers don’t have the experience behind the wheel or the reflexes to always have the correct reactions and make the right decisions when driving. Keeping your new teen driver safe requires reinforcing the legal rules of the road and instilling other good driving habits. The Washington State Department of Licensing offers a safe driving agreement between parents and their teens. This contract helps support and build good driving habits and includes the following:

Obey all traffic laws and don’t speed. According to the National Highway Transportation Administration (NHTSA) speed is a factor in about a third of fatal crashes involving teen drivers. Even if your teen is driving the speed limit, he or she still might be traveling too fast for conditions. Make sure you remind your teen to slow down in rain, ice, snow, and heavy traffic.

Don’t drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol. According to the CDC, 20 percent of male drivers between 15 and 20 who were involved in traffic accidents are under the influence of alcohol. Washington, like many other states, has a zero-tolerance policy for underage drinkers. If your teen has any alcohol related incident, they will lose their license until they are 18.

Offer a no judgment ride policy to your teen. Your teen should never ride with another new driver with whom they are not comfortable, especially if alcohol is involved. Offer your teen a ride at any hour so they don’t get into a car with a drunk driver or get behind the wheel after drinking themselves.

Know your teen’s driving plans. Have your teen call if they are going to be late and not drive after 10 p.m., as well as discussing where they are driving before they leave the house.

Use seat belts. Not only is it illegal to not wear a seat belt, but it is dangerous. Remind your teen that if they have an accident without their seat belt, it’s more likely to sustain a serious injury. Drivers should also ensure everyone in the vehicle is wearing their seat belt.

Avoid distractions. Although cell phone usage is banned, new drivers need to avoid other distractions, such as eating in the car, adjusting the radio, personal grooming, and putting on makeup. Almost half of Seattle accidents involving teens in 2017 were caused by cars going out of their lane or running off of the side of the road, often a result of inattentive driving.

Get Legal Help From Boohoff Law if Someone Injures Your Teen in an Accident

Even when your teen is obeying all the traffic laws, complying with restrictions, and overall driving safely, they can still get in an accident because of another motorist. In the event that an accident occurs, make sure your teen seeks medical attention as soon as possible. Then, enlist the help of Boohoff Law to learn about how we can help you recover damages after your teen gets in a car accident. If you are in the Seattle area, contact the experienced personal injury attorneys at Boohoff Law online or call at (877) 999-9999 to schedule a free consultation.

May Is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month

If you are a motorcycle enthusiast living in the Seattle area, you know that you can ride your bike year-round, or at least 10 months out of the year. Yet, some don’t want to battle the colder weather or potential icy roads during the winter months, so they wait until spring to break out their bike for the summer. This makes May the perfect time to think about motorcycle safety. Fortunately, most bikers ride safely, and when they are involved in an accident, it’s often caused by another motorist.

The Washington Traffic Safety Commission estimates that motorcycle accidents account for 15 percent of traffic fatalities and almost 20 percent of severe injuries in crashes. An average of 75 bikers die each year on Washington’s roads and highways. Whether you’ve been riding for years or weeks, it’s important to remain focused on safety for your own protection. Below are some tips to help you avoid accidents while you commute to work or take a joy ride to enjoy the picture-perfect landscapes of the Pacific Northwest.

Know Your Bike

One of the best ways to keep you safe on the road is knowing how to handle your bike. This is a learned skill that only gets better as you ride more. It’s important that you have a motorcycle that fits your body, which means you should be able to put both feet flat on the ground and reach your handlebars. You should also make sure your bike isn’t too heavy for you. Assuming your motorcycle is a good fit for you, hone your skills by taking a rider’s safety class. You can find classes for all levels from beginning to advanced. The Washington State Department of Licensing lists multiple locations throughout the state, including three locations in Seattle.

Get the Right Gear

As you are cruising around on your motorcycle, only your gear separates you from the road if you get in an accident. The right gear helps reduce injuries and might even prevent them in some cases. Washington law requires all bikers to wear helmets. Keep in mind that helmets don’t last forever; exposure to oil and chemicals from hair products cause them to wear slowly overtime. The Snell Memorial Foundation, a world-respected non-profit organization who independently researches and tests helmets, suggests you replace your helmet at least every five years.

In addition to protecting your head, you need the right gear to protect your eyes and feet. Even if your bike has a windshield, you should wear a helmet with a face shield, sunglasses, or goggles to keep debris out of your eyes while riding. Eye protection also keeps the rain out of your eyes, something you will most likely experience at some point when cruising around Seattle. Rain can also cause your feet to slip, so invest in good motorcycle boots to give you traction and protect your feet from getting wet.

The right protective clothing keeps you safe in two ways. First, leather and padded gear protect you from the elements and from road rash if you get in an accident. Second, when you buy clothing and gear in bright colors, you make yourself visible to others on the road which prevents accidents.

Ride Your Motorcycle Defensively

Aggressive motorcycle drivers who take chances are more likely to be involved in an accident, and even those who drive carefully face the risk of an accident. Riding defensively helps you anticipate and prevent hazards and dangerous situations that might lead to injury or fatality. The following tips will help you drive defensively on your next motorcycle ride:

    • Continuously scan the road for hazards which might include debris, sand, pebbles, tree branches, and potholes, so you can avoid them. If you don’t have the space or time to drive around the hazard, reduce your speed as much as you can.
    • Leave ample space and time for you to respond to other vehicles on the road and also leave enough time and space for them to respond to you. Following too closely on a bike or being followed too closely might be disastrous. If a vehicle is too close behind you, you need to move to the side and let them pass.
    • Ride in the most visible area of a lane and avoid the blind spots of other vehicles, so drivers who haven’t cleared their blind spots don’t run into you while changing lanes or turning.
    • Avoid riding in bad weather; wet roads and high winds make for dangerous roads. Yet, biking in the rain is bound to happen on occasion. If you get caught in the rain, ride on a dry line. The tires from the car in front of you plow the water away and leave a dry line that will give you more traction.
    • Use your turn signals, and horn if necessary, to let other motorists know your intentions.
    • Only pass vehicles when absolutely necessary, and make sure the driver sees you.
    • Avoid riding your bike under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or if you feel fatigued.
    • Slow down for curves and bends in the road.
    • Keep an eye out for distracted drivers on their phone, eating, reaching in their back seat, or partaking in any activity that interrupts their focus on the road.

Avoid quick braking because it might cause you to skid. Many high-end models come standard with anti-lock brakes, but if you have a low-end model or an older bike, consider investing in anti-lock brakes. Sometimes a vehicle or hazard in front of you forces you to suddenly brake, anti-lock brakes will help you avoid an accident or dumping your bike after a skid.

Get the Help You Need After a Motorcycle Accident

Even when you know your motorcycle well, wear the proper gear, and following defensive driving tips, you still might sustain an injury in a motorcycle accident. Washington law permits you to seek damages in court to recover medical costs, lost wages, and non-economic damages, but you need the guidance of a skilled motorcycle accident attorney to increase your chances of a successful settlement or verdict in your favor. Contact the skilled legal team at Boohoff Law online or call at (877) 999-9999 for a free consultation if you have been injured in a motorcycle accident.

Living With the Effects of a Serious Injury

Suffering a severe or catastrophic injury is a life-changing event that devastates victims and their families. The aftermath of the injury includes physical, emotional, and financial consequences that make it difficult for victims to return to life as normal. No amount of money will undo the damage caused by a severe accident, but money can help reduce or eliminate the financial burden associated with catastrophic injuries that require lifelong treatment or care. If you are not already suing for damages, you need to contact an attorney immediately to find out more about receiving compensation for your injury.

This blog focuses on the physical and emotional effects of a serious injury, aspects a successful settlement or court-awarded damages can’t really help. Injury victims, especially those who have scars, have lost body parts, or have had to undergo an amputation, deal with as much mental pain as physical pain, and often suffer with depression and remain angry about their condition. If this describes you or a loved one, you need to contact a mental health professional in the Seattle area as soon as possible. You don’t have to spend your days angry and depressed.

Although you may live with certain aspects of your injury, you can optimize your health by supporting your body’s natural capability to self-repair after severe injuries and illness. Below you will find some tips and suggestions to help you cope and move past the physical and emotional struggles that accompany sustaining a life-changing injury.

Recognize the Link Between the Physical and the Emotional

If you have suffered a serious injury, you might have chronic pain. Perhaps you have back pain, knee pain, or phantom pain from an amputation. Regardless of the pain you are experience, the old cliche—mind over matter—applies.

Research on pain suggests victims can learn to feel pain after experiencing pain, and when they fear or anticipate pain, they feel more pain. When you come into contact with the situation that led to your injury, such as a car accident, an unintentional fall, or a workplace accident, it’s not uncommon to fear another accident and feel additional pain. Chronic pain is no joke, and you should be communicating with your doctor about effective pain management, but part of that strategy should include overcoming your fear of pain.

Engage in Rational Thought

After a severe injury, you most likely have had well-meaning friends and family tell you to think positively, look on the bright side, and other unhelpful things to blow some sunshine your way. The power of positive self-talk can be helpful for some, but many psychologists prefer to focus on rational and realistic thought through the implementation of Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy (REBT) principles. REBT seeks to transform victims by helping them change the things they tell themselves about their injuries. Some examples of transformative thoughts that might be useful to you include:

  • The accident that led to my injury is not my fault.
  • Others have experienced severe injuries and also have limitations.
  • I refuse to let my limitations ruin my life.
  • I will make an effort to restore my career and my personal relationships.
  • I will attempt to make meaningful contributions to my community despite my limitations.

For some, physical pain is not only a reminder of an injury, but a reminder of the assistance and extra care needed invoking feelings of weakness. Engaging in rational thought through therapies like REBT, help victims cope with anger, accept their limitations, and lead a full life.

Eat Nutritious Meals

It’s likely that you know you should consume a healthy diet, but sometimes we don’t do what’s best for our health. After sustaining a severe injury, there is no better time to focus on what you put in your body. Vitamins and minerals found in unprocessed foods may promote healing and recovery. Including these things in your diet will help you optimize your health so you feel the best you can feel despite any disability or pain. For example, vitamin A may promote the healing of skin and bones, vitamin C may help repair connective tissue through the formation of collagen, and the enzymes found in pineapple may reduce swelling, bruising, and pain after injury and surgery.

Eating healthy also includes avoiding a lot of starch and sugar, and drinking plenty of water. Sugary foods give you temporary energy, but cause you to crash so you feel worse. Drinking water flushes the toxins out of your system and keeps your joints lubricated. When you eat healthy most of the time—we all need a little birthday cake, some homemade pasta, a glass of wine, or a beer on occasion—you will find you are more energetic, helping to fight off some of the depression you might feel after a serious injury.

Make Exercise Part of Your Daily Routine

As much as you need your rest for healing and recovery, you also need to keep moving to the best of your ability. Some injuries might prevent regular exercise, so you should discuss your limitations with your doctor. In most cases, you can do some sort of activity to get your heart rate going and build your strength. If the benefits of exercise could be extracted into a liquid or pill, people would rush their doctors for a prescription.

You probably know the physical benefits of exercise, but did you know that activity also promotes healing? Physical activity affects hemostasis, the body’s physiological response to bleeding and the first step of wound healing. Additionally, exercise promotes collagen formation, helping soft tissues heal, improves the healing of bones, muscles, tendons, and ligaments, and decreases the formation of scar tissue. Finally, exercise helps combat anxiety and depression that a victim might experience after an injury, improving one’s overall mental health.

Contact Boohoff Law’s Skilled Seattle Personal Injury Lawyer Today

If you or a loved one has suffered a severe or catastrophic injury after an accident, Washington law entitles you to sue for damages in civil court if your injury was a result of another party’s negligence or intent to harm you. Let an experienced personal injury attorney handle the details of your case while you focus on recovery, rehabilitation, and living with your injury. Contact Boohoff Law online or call our Seattle office at (877) 999-9999 to schedule a free consultation and learn how we can assist you after a severe injury.