Never Events- what are they and recent examples

never event claims

‘Never events’ are serious patient safety incidents which would have been avoided if the medical staff had followed national guidance and safety recommendations.

All Never Events have the potential to cause death or serious harm and simply put should NEVER happen. As a result, the NHS has a framework for reporting and publishing data relating to the number and kind of Never Events that occur nationally.

What is classed as a Never Event?

There are different types of Never Events, including the following examples:

  • An operation carried out on the wrong part of the patient’s body
  • Surgical instruments being left in the patient after surgery when that equipment/swab/drain should have been removed
  • Using the wrong implant/ prosthesis during a surgical procedure
  • Administrating the medication a patient needs the wrong way
  • Misplacement of naso- or oro-gastric tubes.
  • Scalding of patients with surgical tools or chemicals

| How often do Never Events occur?

Recent NHS figures confirm that there were 407 reported ‘Never Events’ between April 2021 and March 2022. More recently, between April and June 2022, there were 99 reported ‘Never Events’. These numbers are high taking into account the fact that there can be no excuse for a Never Event. Further, the very nature of the event means that they shouldn’t happen once, never mind 99 times in a three-month period.

| Medical negligence claims based on Never Events

‘Never Events’ often have serious life changing consequences for the patient. It is crucial for those responsible for the avoidable incident to learn from their mistakes.

Equally, it is important for those affected to receive compensation for the avoidable harm caused.

In any case, when making a claim for a ‘Never Event’ it is important to know that you will need to prove the following:

  • You suffered harm due to a ‘Never Event’
  • The person (or people) responsible for your care were the cause of the ‘Never Event’
  • The event happened within the last three years, or you have become aware of it within the last three years.

If you are involved or affected by a ‘Never Event’, a healthcare professional should notify you. This may be face to face, on the phone, or in a letter. However, if you feel you have suffered because of a ‘Never Event’, but no one has notified you, you may still be entitled to compensation and can pursue your claim against those who treated you.

| Recent example

A recent example of a Never Event is when a woman who was left infertile after her surgeons removed a healthy fallopian tube.

She had been correctly diagnosed with an ectopic pregnancy (a condition where a fertilised egg is implanted outside of the womb). However, when the doctors operated, they also removed her unaffected, healthy fallopian tube. This left her unable to become pregnant naturally again in the future. This is just an example of one of the many ‘Never Events’ which occurred between 2021 and 2022.

Within our own medical negligence team’s experience, we have seen many Never Events. For example, a 9-inch surgical drain being left in a woman after a caesarean section, and the end of a medical drill causing an infection as well as the need for a second operation.

If you want to discuss claiming compensation for the consequences of a Never Event or as a result of any treatment received in hospital or by any other healthcare professional, please contact our medical negligence team. Call us on 0800 988 7756 or us our contact form

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