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The frightening but real world of "never events"

The term has been around for a generation, which some people might reasonably believe would dampen its emotive aspects when it currently comes up in a news story or conversation.

That is not the case, though. For those who know what a "never event" is, its mere mention continues to be - and always will be - chilling.

We'll quickly distill it for you. The federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality stresses in a recently updated article that the realm of never events refers to "particularly shocking medical errors."

Those are just about as bad as any reader of our pro-victims' medical malpractice blogs at the Los Angeles Law Offices of Neil M. Howard can possibly envision. The list of medical outcomes that should flatly never happen has been expanded over time by regulators and health care groups to include things like the following:

  • Wrong-patient surgery (also encompassing wrong body-part and wrong-procedure surgeries)
  • Patient's retention of a foreign object following an operation (for example, a clamp or surgical sponge)
  • Extreme radiologic errors
  • Staff mistreatment of a patient (e.g., inadequate monitoring or sexual assault)
  • Death or material injury linked with medication mistakes
  • Improper facility discharge

That bullet point list, while telling, is only a limited and representative compendium of many other events that now receive the "never" qualifier.

What baffles legions of industry commentators, reformers, administrators and regulators is that shocking errors leading to patients' deaths and serious injuries are almost entirely preventable. That is, their occurrence is extremely rare when providers simple adhere to recognized standards of care.

Why isn't that always the case? In a realm so advanced and with proven protocols and safeguards on display, why do never events occur at all?

There is no dearth of professional input and effort concerning those key questions. And while the gold standard in the medical realm unwaveringly spotlights the practice of error-free medicine, that reasonably expected result continues to be elusive in some instances.

Questions or concerns regarding any aspect of negligent medical care can be directed to a law firm with a proven and aggressive record of strong advocacy on behalf of medical malpractice victims.

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Law Offices of Neil M. Howard
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El Segundo, CA 90245

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