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.
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.
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.
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.