91 Never Events reported by hospitals in three months

Statistics released by NHS England show that hospitals in England recorded 91 Never Events between January and March of this year.

Never Events’ are ‘serious, largely preventable patient safety incidents which occur in the delivery of medical services. Where a ‘Never Event’ takes place, it is often the result of clinical negligence. As the name suggests, the mistakes and medical negligence involved in such incidents are so fundamental that they should simply never occur.

Never Events, as reported by NHS England, including patients having the wrong part of their body operated on, having medical apparatus left in their body after a surgical procedure and having the wrong implant or prosthesis implanted. In total, 91 Never Events were recorded by hospitals in England between January and March 2016. The most common mistakes were undertaking surgery on the wrong part of the body (39 incidents), leaving medical apparatus inside patients following surgery (23) and placing the wrong implant or prosthesis in patients (13).

70 NHS Trusts and private organisations reported ‘Never Events’ in the three-month period from January to March 2016. The worst performing organisations during the period were:

  • Birmingham Children’s Hospital NHS Foundation Trust with four incidents.
  • Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust with three.
  • Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust with three.
  • Great Western Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust also with three.

Clinical negligence of course includes such serious and obvious clinical mistakes as Never Events, but many other medical errors which may be considered less severe, perhaps a misdiagnosis, also arise out of medical negligence and can cause significant suffering and distress. Commenting on the statistics reported by NHS England, Jason Brady, clinical negligence lawyer at Blackwater Law solicitors in Essex and Suffolk said:

“Never events are instances of clinical negligence that put patients’ lives at risk. As such incidents arise from human and process errors, all Never Events can and should be avoided.

“Trusts should try to learn from the mistakes and errors they make and take action to try to ensure such incidents do not occur again when presented with the same situation and circumstances.

“Patients, or family of patients that have been the victim of clinical negligence or Never Event, may be entitled to make a claim for compensation. We have found that sometimes it can take legal action to encourage the necessary focus in large organisations such as the NHS.”