If you’ve never heard of never events, you should count yourself lucky. These are events that occur in medicine in which physicians make egregious errors that may lead to death or serious injury.
To put it simply, they should never, ever occur. The sad reality is, however, that they are more common than you’d think, with an estimated 4,000 events taking place every year.
What Are Never Events?
Never events are, essentially, mistakes in healthcare. They do not include known side effects of surgeries or medication but instead refer to events that are entirely preventable.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services lists 29 distinct events that fall under this category. They range from foreign objects being left behind in patients after surgery, to performing the wrong surgery on the right patient (or vice versa), to issues regarding drug administration or dosage.
How Are Never Events Reported?
While in 25 states never events have to be reported, at-fault hospitals are not required to release the data to the public. As such, it is difficult for patients to make decisions about their health, and many of them don’t even know they might be at risk.
How Can We Prevent Them?
Even in the case of never events, the simplest solution could end up being the most efficient one. In this case, a checklist could save a lot of lives. The checklist covers a variety of topics and ensures that the right procedures are being done on the right patients.
What’s more, with never events becoming the 3rd cause of death in the U.S., honesty, and openness from medical professionals could also help curb this problem.
The Never Events documentary follows several patients and their experience with never events, as well as medical professionals who open up about this unsightly American epidemic.