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Medical Malpractice Events That Should “Never” OccurWe expect the medical professionals who take care of us to faithfully execute their responsibility to provide us with a proper duty of care. Unfortunately, doctors and other medical care providers make errors and sometimes these errors result in long term or irreparable harm to the patient. The term “never event” with respect to medical malpractice refers to an event, although rare, that should never occur.

The National Quality Forum (NQF) has classified “never events” into seven major categories:

  1. Surgical
  2. Product or device
  3. Patient protection
  4. Care management
  5. Environmental
  6. Radiologic
  7. Criminal

Some of the most common “never events” are explained below.

Surgical events

Surgical “never events” can include leaving an instrumental or tool inside the patient after surgery, operating on the wrong body part, operating on the wrong patient, removing the wrong organ, death that results from routine surgery or immediately after surgery with a healthy patient. Over 4,000 surgical never event claims occur each year, according to information published in the journal Surgery.

Sometimes these events are caused by errors involving medical records in patient charts for the handling of this information. If the presiding doctor or surgeon has the wrong information about the individual here she is operating on or the type of surgery or medical procedure to be performed, a surgical “never event” can occur. As it concerns leaving foreign objects in a patient during surgery, various items such as gloves, gauze, surgical tools, clamps, needles, scalpels, among others may be left behind.

For these reasons, it is vital for surgeons, nurses, and other medical personnel to conduct a thorough inspection of the surgical area before closing.

Device or product events

Never events that result from devices were products may stem from contaminated or improperly designed devices, or medications that produced dangerous health consequences for the patient. This can include injuries suffered by the patient as a result of a medical provider recommending a device or product not according to its intended use.

Patient protection events

Health care facilities and professionals are required to implement appropriate protocol when caring for patients who are unable to care for themselves and make their own decisions. This can include elderly patients with memory issues, minors, infants, and other persons under the care of another party. Patient protection “never events” can occur when:

  • The patient disappears and sustains a serious injury or death
  • The patient is released or discharged to an unauthorized individual
  • The patient attempts suicide, self-harms, or successfully commits suicide while under the care of a health care facility

Care management events

Some events should never happen while patients are under the care of medical professionals. These events, as mentioned above, may occur in a surgery setting, but they also may occur in the context of emergency room negligence or other standard care negligence. These include:

  • Low-risk pregnancy leading to serious injury during or after labor or delivery, or in the worst cases, maternal death
  • Medication errors such as wrong dosage, wrong drug, wrong drug preparation, wrong time of administration, wrong route or method of administration, and wrong rate of administration
  • Patient falls in a health care setting
  • Wrong administration of blood products
  • Using the wrong sperm or egg in the artificial insemination process
  • Infant death due to labor or delivery mismanagement with a low-risk pregnancy
  • Death of the patient resulting from communication failures or failure to check and stay current with pathology, laboratory, or radiology test results

If a “never event” has left you or a loved one seriously injured, you have the right to pursue legal action that can successfully hold to account the liable parties in your case. At Eichen Crutchlow Zaslow, LLP, our New Jersey medical malpractice attorneys can carefully investigate and fight to secure the maximum compensation you deserve for your injuries and losses. To arrange a free consultation at one of our three conveniently located offices in Red Bank, Edison, and Toms River, give us a call today at 732-777-0100 or use our contact form to send us a message. We fight for clients throughout the state.




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