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What Are Medical "Never Events," and Why Are They of Dire Concern?

If you’ve ever been to a hospital or surgical center in Missouri or elsewhere for an operation and been subjected to the same battery of questions over and over prior to the onset of your procedure, don’t become frustrated or angry.

Be thankful.

There are very good — in fact, compelling — reasons for hospital staff members to ask you to repeat your name, your birth date and the reason for your visit multiple times.

Doing so protects them — and you.

Those questions go far toward establishing your surgeons and nurses as careful and conscientious providers of medical care. They want to get things right. They want to know who you are and why you’re there.

In other words, they don’t want to make a mistake. And, in medical parlance, they especially don’t want to commit a “never event” error.

If that sounds ominous, it’s because it is.

And most readers seeking to intuitively gauge what types of mistakes constitute never events likely get it right fairly quickly.

We’re talking operating on the wrong body part. We’re talking performing the wrong procedure on a patient. We’re even talking performing a surgical procedure on the wrong patient.

If that’s shocking, it’s because, well, it most certainly is. Never events are a big deal in the medical industry for obvious reasons, most centrally that they kill and otherwise maim patients.

Of course, never events are not a commonplace in medicine, but they do occur. Surgical teams leave sponges and instruments inside patients’ bodies following operations. Patients are subjected to all manner of medication errors, including wrong dose, wrong time and even wrong medicine.

As noted in an overview on medical never events, there is a much-consulted list of such occurrences. What is common with all of them is that, absent negligence, they simply don’t occur.

In other words: They are almost always preventable.

And given that, there can be no excuse for them. Patients who suffer injuries as the result of medical error have legal remedies to compensate for their suffering. A proven plaintiffs’ medical malpractice attorney can discuss those remedies in a candid and confidential consultation and provide diligent representation in any case involving medical negligence.