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When will ‘never events’ actually mean never again?

Worries over patient safety have been raised across Greater Manchester hospitals in the last week as 70 never events were reported between January 2014 and July 2017.

Most shockingly it was reported that a ‘foreign object’ was left inside a patient for four years following surgery and was only then discovered when the patient had surgery again.

A never event is a serious incident caused by a medical error which is wholly preventable and should never happen due to the risk it poses to patients.

The clinical negligence team at JMW are all too familiar with never events and know the impact they can have. Never events can severely delay a patient’s recover y process, devastate lives, or worse still, be life threatening.

Once a never event has occurred, it is vital that a full and thorough investigation takes place by trained investigators. By doing so, a fair and unbiased analysis can identify areas where action is required to minimise the incident from happening again and ensure that greater safety measures are implemented.

NHS England keeps a record of all never events which are available to view by the public. This includes the type of errors made and how often they are occurring. The latest publication revealed that the most common blunder was wrong site surgery, followed by retained foreign objects post procedure. It is also worrying to read that between April 2017 and July 2017 there were 145 medical errors reported across England. The most recent report can be viewed here: https://improvement.nhs.uk/uploads/documents/Never_Events_1_April_2017_-_31_July_2017.pdf

My colleague, Bryony Doyle, has also recently commented on the frequency of never events. http://bit.ly/2ugJ4ZW   

Posing the question when will never actually mean never again?

Although frequent reports are produced to allow staff to learn from mistakes, it tells us that never events are a national problem. Medical protocol is still not being followed which is deeply concerning as the public places their trust in the medical profession. It is understandable that a patient having to return to hospital for a further procedure to rectify an error can feel as though their trust has been undermined and misused.

To contact us about how the JMW team can assist to seek answers and compensation following your own experience, please do not hesitate to get in touch. 

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