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What are never events?

Maryland doctors are only human, and just like every other human, they too are susceptible to errors. However, whereas some errors are harmless and the result of a moment of fatigue or a slight oversight, others are so significant that they are often fatal. Many of these errors are the result of negligence, and the healthcare industry dubs many of them "Never Events."

According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, the Former CEO of the National Qualify Forum coined the term "Never Event" in 2001 in the hopes of making sense of particularly appalling medical errors. Since then, the list has grown to include 29 events, which the industry groups into seven categories. Each of these events are serious (meaning they result in disability or death), easily identifiable and quantifiable and preventable—hence the term, "Never Event." The seven categories in which a Never Event may fall are product or device events; care management events; surgical or procedural events; environmental events; criminal events; radiologic events; and patient protection events.

The news most often shares only the most shocking of Never Events. For this reason, when one thinks of a Never Event, he or she might think of a wrong-site surgery or a tool left in a patient. However, Never Events take many forms. For instance, the healthcare industry has dubbed inseminating a person with the wrong donor egg or sperm a Never Event. If a provider's failure to communicate or follow up with test results cause severe harm or death to a patient, the industry would consider it a Never Event.

Though rare, Never Events are almost always fatal. According to reports, approximately 71 percent of Never Events victims or their families reported resulted in death.

The information in this post is meant to educate. It should not be taken for legal advice. 

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