Smiley & Smiley, LLP

Never events: the disastrous but preventable health threats

New York patients that are seeking medical treatment can reasonably assume that they will receive a certain level of skill and care. If a health care provider makes a mistake that should never occur, the patient may be experiencing was is often referred to as a "never event." 

Medical News Today provides examples of what never events are as well as how often they happen. An example of this includes a surgeon operating on the wrong body part, which may be prevented by marking the site with ink to ensure the appropriate surgical location. Likewise, barcoding surgical instruments may help account for them after a procedure to ensure none are left within the patient's body. In order to try and reduce the approximately 4,000 surgical never events that happen each year, many medical professionals have enacted these and other monitoring strategies.

While medical clinics continuously work to devise preventative measures, there are outside entities that are taking action as well. The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality discusses how government agencies and advocacy groups are combating never events. After a list of never events was publicly released, many states began to require that physicians and centers report the occurrences of injuries that are the result of medical provider negligence. Furthermore, Medicare and other insurers have advised that they will not cover costs billed due to preventable medical mistakes.

By holding medical professionals more accountable for their errors, the number of patients that experience the consequences of health care never events may be reduced.

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