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'Never events' happen, and patients pay the price

Going to the hospital can be a stressful, upsetting situation for any person who is sick or hurt. While there are hopes and expectations that everything will go well, there is no guarantee that a particular medication, operation or course of treatment will be successful and free from complications.

However, there are standards of basic care in place to prevent completely - or almost completely - preventable situations. These situations are collectively referred to as "never events," and as the name implies, they should never happen. Unfortunately, they do happen at hospitals across New York and it is the patient who suffers the consequences.

As reported by the Patient Safety Network, never events include 29 different events that should not happen in hospitals across the U.S. because they are so shocking, severe or unambiguous. The list includes:

  • Performing surgery on the wrong site or the wrong patient
  • Use of contaminated drugs
  • Patient death or injury due to failed protection efforts
  • Maternal death during a low-risk pregnancy
  • Introducing metal into an MRI area resulting in patient injury or death
  • Sexual or physical abuse of a patient in the hospital
  • Improper use of a medical device
  • Leaving a foreign object inside a surgical patient
  • Suffering a burn as a result of patient care

Each of these events can prove to be catastrophic, and they are all preventable. Knowing this can make any occurrence particularly difficult to comprehend, as we expect hospitals, doctors and nurses to take at least the most basic precautions when it comes to caring for sick or injured patients.

However, thousands of people every year are hurt or killed as a result of events that, by definition, should never happen. In fact, as noted in this Gothamist article, a case was recently filed right here in New York after a patient caught fire due to mistakes made by surgical workers using a medical instrument that caused a surgical fire.

Weisfuse & Weisfuse LLP represents a young child who suffers serious injury as result of the failure of a surgeon to remove electrodes implanted in her head. This was caused by not accurately counting the electrodes which were removed. After this the hospital changed its protocol to require multiple counts. Redundant practices insure that never events never happen. Weisfuse & Weisfuse LLP represents victims of medical malpractice. Call us for a free consultation at 212 983 3000. 

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