By John Tingle
“Never Events” — medical errors that should never occur — are a major and recurring problem in health care in England.
When they do occur, they sap confidence and trust in the health care system, and can result in significant injury or death to the patient. They can result in expensive litigation. There is also a significant financial cost to the NHS, which is always short of financial resources. The patient, their relatives, and all those involved in the incident bear emotional costs, too.
In the National Health Service (NHS), Never Events are defined and listed. The list includes such incidents as a foreign body being left in a patient, wrong implant/prosthesis, and wrong site surgery, among others. Sadly, the incidence of Never Events in the NHS is still too high.
Never Events are also a major patient safety metric that helps regulators such as the Care Quality Commission (CQC) and the public judge the safety of a hospital or other health care facility.
Recent publications highlight that Never Events remain a critical and a stubbornly persistent problem for the NHS to address.