Never Events: Doctor and Hospital's Misktakes

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Hospitals are busy places, and with so much going on it is hard to believe that mistakes are not made. However, there are some accidents that should never happen. Such events have been termed ‘never events’ because they are never supposed to happen. This term was first introduced by Ken Kizer, MD, in 2001 (US, 2012). The Joint Commission has classified never events as sentinel events and asks that hospitals report them. A sentinel event is defined as, “an unexpected occurrence involving death or serious physiological or psychological injury, or the risk thereof” (US, 2012). Never events are termed sentinel events because in the past 12 years 71% of the events reported were fatal (US, 2012). Because these events are never supposed to happen, many insurance companies will not reimburse the hospitals when they occur. A study in 2006, showed that the average hospital could experience a case of wrong-site surgery, one example of a never event, only once every 5 to 10 years (US, 2012). This study illustrates how rare a never event is. Hospitals do not want these never events to happen any more than a patient does. To help prevent these errors, hospitals have created policies that, if followed, will minimize the possibility of a mistake. The consequences of never events are devastating and because of this the goal is to make sure that they are eradicated from hospitals and medical facilities.


When first introduced, there were only 27 specific situations classified as never events, but now the list has been expanded to contain 29. These events have been classified into 6 different categories: criminal, radiologic, surgical, environmental, care management, patient protection, and product or device ...

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