NHS 'never events' - Why are they still prevalent?

Never events are medical mistakes that are so preventable that they should never happen. You will have seen in the news again and further to our previous article on ‘Never Ever’ events in 2014, that there are still a high number of never events occurring in the NHS. 

Analysis recently published by BBC health has shown that between April 2015 to the end of December 2015 there were 254 never events. In the last 4 years more than 1,100 patients have suffered from serious never events.

Katherine Murphy, Chief Executive of the Patients Association has commented that it was a disgrace that such supposed 'never' incidents are still so prevalent, and asked  how there are such basic, avoidable mistakes that are still happening.

In agreement to Katherine’s comment, Emma Scourfield, Head of Medical Negligence at NewLaw said, “Leaving an instrument in a patient or surgically removing the wrong body part is not a minor mistake. It is life changing for the patient, for their families and it puts a huge strain on the NHS resources to have to correct the procedure, if it can be corrected at all. This just should never happen.”

The NHS revised the Never Events Policy and Framework on 27th March 2015, actually reducing the incidents that can be classed as a ‘never event’ from 25 to 14.

Some examples of never events that have been reported include, a woman having her fallopian tubes removed instead of her appendix, a diabetic patient was given the wrong type of blood during a transfusion, a man had a testicle removed instead of just the cyst on it and these are one of many incidents that occur each year. 

The Press Association reported that there have been more than 420 incidences of foreign objects left inside patients after operations, to include gauzes, swabs, drill guides, scalpel blades and needles over the last four years in the NHS, England. Some of the mistakes have irreversible and have unforgivable consequences.

A ‘never event’ should not occur, but unfortunately as we have read, there are many medical negligent cases. If you or a loved one has suffered a ‘Never Ever’ event, it is important that you act swiftly and obtain legal advice from a qualified professional medical negligence solicitor.


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