Never Events: 380 incidents of potential medical negligence between April 16 – March 17

Figures released by NHS Improvement at the end of March 2017 indicate that there were as many as 380 incidents of serious medical negligence reported by NHS Trusts across the country between 1 April 2016 and 28 February 2017.

These medical negligence incidents are labelled ‘Never Events’ and are deemed entirely preventable where national guidelines on the deliverance and standards of care are met. Their label refers to the fact such incidents should never occur. As such, the patients affected by such medical errors may be entitled to make a medical negligence claim.

397 “Serious Incidents” were initially reported to NHS Improvement as potential Never Events during the period examined, of which 380 were eventually classified as such.  Of the remaining incidents, 10 remain under the “Serious Incident” classification, nonetheless representing a failure to meet the necessary standards of care and still potentially representing instances of medical negligence.

The worst month recorded during this period was November 2016, which saw 45 Never Events; representing an average of 11 a week.

Examples of ‘Never Events’

Numerous forms of significant failure on the part of a care provider can fall under the classification of a never event, but during the period examined some particular errors occurred in significantly greater volume than others:

  • There were 157 incidents of surgery being performed at the wrong site, potentially giving rise to surgical error claims.
  • There were 95 incidents of patients retaining a foreign object post-surgery.
  • There were 45 reports of patients receiving the wrong implant/prosthesis.
  • Medication was administered via the wrong route or method a total of 39 times.
  • Surgery was performed on the wrong tooth/teeth on a total of 35 occasions, potentially giving rise to dental negligence claims.

Hospitals recording the most ‘Never Events’

Never events were recorded at NHS trusts all across the country, but again some institutions produced more failures than others. Below is a list of those NHS Trusts reporting the highest number of Never Events during the period:

  • Barts Health NHS Trust, which produced 11 Never Events during the period examined
  • County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust produced 7 Never Events
  • Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust produced 7 Never Events
  • Newcastle Upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust produced 7 Never Events
  • Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust also recorded 7 Never Events
  • King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust was responsible for 6 Never Events
  • Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust produced 5 Never Events
  • Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust saw 5 Never Events
  • 5 Never Events were also recorded at Burton Hospitals Foundation Trust
  • Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust was responsible for 5 Never Events
  • Mid Essex Hospital Services NHS Trust and North Bristol NHS Trust both recorded 5 Never Events
  • 5 more Never Events were recorded at Pennine Acute Hospitals NHS Trust
  • Taunton and Somerset NHS Foundation Trust also produced 5 Never Events

This staggeringly high incidence rate of Never Events at health institutions situated across the country is an indicator of an NHS that is, in some instances, struggling to deliver the standards of care its patients expect.

Cases of Never Events are particularly concerning, and devastating, as they are errors that, as their name suggests, should never happen.

If you or a family member have been the victim of a Never Event whilst undergoing NHS treatment, it is possible your care providers are guilty of medical negligence; meaning you could be entitled to claim medical negligence compensation. For more information, speak to an expert medical negligence solicitor at Blackwater Law for free initial advice and support. Call today on 0800 083 5500 to find out where you stand.


Get expert advice

Call today and speak to Zoe Diss, specialist medical negligence solicitor. Find out if you can claim compensation.

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