NHS saw 299 'never events' in 2012 – Clearwater Solicitors respond

medical negligence claims

‘Never events’ are a common factor in serious medical negligence claims. These are preventable, serious incidents that significantly compromise patient safety, and the NHS says they should never occur if preventative measures are properly implemented.

There are 25 different types of never event, including:

–          Some forms of inpatient suicide

–          Chemotherapy administration through the wrong route

–          Surgical tools being retained inside patients following surgery

–          Surgery on the wrong site

–          Misplaced orogastric or naso tubing that is not detected

–          Unnecessary intravenous administration of concentrated potassium chloride

–          Fatal cases of maternal post-partum haemorrhage in hospitals following elective caesarean sections

–          Escape from high- and medium-security mental health facilities by transferred prisoners

–          Air embolism

Last year, the NHS in England recorded 299 cases of these ‘never events’; a significant rise from the previous year’s figure of 163. Our clinical negligence solicitors have also seen a rise in the number of never events, perhaps caused by increasing pressures on the health service, and while the NHS did not explain the reasons for the pronounced increase, it is thought that hospitals across the country could be struggling to cope with austerity.

Many medical negligence solicitors also have a sneaking suspicion that these never-events occur far more frequently than the NHS’ official figures indicate, but that doctors try to cover them up and deal with the consequences to prevent the incident becoming open knowledge.

While data about never events is published on an annual basis, NHS England has recently revealed it is going to publish these lists on a quarterly basis. Incidents will also be broken down by each NHS Trust, so the public will be able to understand which areas appear to have the best healthcare provision and which are likely to see the highest number of clinical negligence claims.

This is part of the NHS’ wider commitment to openness and transparency and should help to stimulate greater levels of preventative action and improve learning within the UK’s healthcare sector.

Publically reporting safety problems was one of the recommendations made in the Berwick Review, and the move by NHS England shows that this recommendation will be realised in practice. This will help people understand the problems the NHS faces and allow the public to understand where responsibility lies in medical negligence compensation claims.

All healthcare systems have problems, and the NHS is no exception, so it is no surprise that so-called ‘never events’ still occur. Every year, the NHS deals with more than one million patients, so if the figure of 299 never events is accurate, this shows patients are incredibly unlikely to be injured in one of these never events.

NHS England director of patient safety Dr Mike Durkin said: “Every single never event is one too many.” While this is an admirable goal, it is unlikely that never events will be completely eradicated.

If you have been the victim of a ‘never event’ or any other form of clinical negligence, you can claim compensation with our medical negligence solicitors. Get in touch today to find out more.