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What You Need to Know About Surgical Never Events in Medical Malpractice Cases

When it comes to medical malpractice cases, injured patients have the burden of proving how a medical professional’s negligence more likely than not led to their preventable injuries. While medical negligence can take numerous forms, it is generally defined by law as a health care provider’s failure to administer treatment in accordance to accepted medical standards – which means that any reasonable and skillful medical professional under the same or similar circumstances would have acted differently to avoid harm.

As this legal definition makes clear, what constitutes medical negligence can sometimes be a matter open to argument. Were there medically acceptable reasons why a doctor failed to make a diagnosis of a patient’s condition? Could a doctor reasonably have foreseen complications experienced by a specific patient? The answers to these questions can vary from case to case, which is why it is often difficult for injured patients to understand when their medical professional’s care amounted to negligence, and whether they have a viable medical malpractice claim. However, there are some types of medical errors that always constitute malpractice. These are known as “never events.”

Never events are mistakes that the medical community unanimously agrees should never happen when providing medical treatment. Almost entirely preventable and grounds for malpractice lawsuits, never events are tracked by most U.S. states, and include nearly 30 distinct events as compiled by the National Quality Forum. These includes egregious mistakes that involve artificial insemination using the wrong donor sperm or egg, sexual assault in health care facilities or nursing homes, serious medication errors that lead to death or disability, and events involving surgical errors.

Surgical errors can take many forms, and can involve negligence in various ways. When it comes to never events, however, there are certain surgical errors that should never take place, including:

  • Surgery performed on the wrong patient
  • Surgery performed on the wrong body part or site (i.e. amputation of the incorrect limb)
  • Incorrect surgery performed on a patient
  • Surgical instruments or foreign objects left in a patient after a procedure
  • Death during or immediately after procedures to patients considered healthy under the ASA physical status classification system used prior to surgery (i.e. a patient with fractures, localized infections, non-disturbing congenital deformities, etc.)

When surgical never events occur, patients should seek immediate assistance from proven medical malpractice attorneys like those at Shrager, Spivey & Sachs. By investigating the event and determining how and why it occurred (doctor error and / or hospital or health care facility error, including administrative errors), our legal team can work to hold the responsible party accountable for its egregious failures and liable for the damages patients experienced as a result – including their pain and suffering, financial losses, and emotional injuries.

By bringing your case to the attention of our award-winning medical malpractice attorneys, you can not only gain the support and resources needed to navigate your legal journey, but also the advocacy to raise awareness about medical errors that should never happen – which can ensure positive change that protects others from suffering similar tragedies. To discuss your potential case and rights, contact us for a free consultation. Our firm has recovered hundreds of millions of dollars in compensation for clients, and is prepared to fight for the financial recovery you deserve.

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