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2019 Never Events from the NHS – “What is a Never Event?”

16 September 2019

Blog, Clinical Negligence

What is a ‘Never Event’?

“Never Events are defined as Serious Incidents that are wholly preventable because guidance or safety recommendations that provide strong systemic protective barriers are available at a national level and should have been implemented by all healthcare providers”. (Source: NHS)

Clinical Negligence - FAQMore than 600 patients have suffered due to serious NHS errors, including surgeons operating on the wrong patient and botched hysterectomies.

A total of 629 “never events” – meaning they are so serious they should never happen – occurred between April 2018 and July 2019 in NHS hospitals – the equivalent of nine patients every week.

The mistakes include doctors operating on the wrong body parts and leaving surgical tools such as gloves and drill bits inside patients.

We act for Mr X where, It was a surprise for Mr X, when he was told by Hull & East Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust that an operation had been performed at the wrong level of his spine.  A Never Event (so called because these types of errors should never occur) investigation demonstrated that the decompression surgery was meant to take place at the L4/5 level, but this was wrongly carried out at the L3/4 level.  However, the internal investigation failed to identify or explain the damage caused by such an error.  As a result, Mr X assumed that his back pain and significant mobility problems would have occurred in any event.

Williamsons Solicitors - Clinical NegligenceWhen Williamsons Solicitors started to investigate a clinical negligence claim for Mr X, we noticed an unreasonable delay identifying a spinal infection and commencing the urgent treatment necessary for this.  The consequences of this further error were much more significant for Mr X because it caused all his mobility problems, along with his ongoing bowel and bladder dysfunction.  The Never Event investigation failed to consider such additional sub-standard care at all.  This is a good example which demonstrates the narrow focus of NHS internal investigations in situations where patient care falls below recognised levels.

In relation to Mr X, we’ve now obtained an admission of liability from Hull & East Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust.  With appropriate care, we argue that he would have regained Frenkel E function i.e. full motor function and only minor sensory impairment.  An early 6 figure settlement offer from the Defendant has been rejected & we are obtaining all the further evidence necessary to demonstrate the true value of his claim.  In the meantime, Mr X has the benefit of a sizeable interim payment to help improve his quality of life.

After helping Mr X find out everything that went wrong with his treatment, Nick Gray, Solicitor is disappointed that so much was missed during the NHS internal investigation.  If you think Nick might be able to help you, just get in touch with him to see.

If you have experienced a ‘Never Event’ then please contact one of our specialist medical negligence team on 01482 323697.

A story from Sky News has revealed the 2019 statistics.

NHS in Numbers has been helpfully outlined here.


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