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What are never events in health care?

If you are like many people in Massachusetts, you are very concerned about the quality of your health care. You may understandably be a bit worried about the possibility of a medical error happening. Sadly, these events can and do happen every day. Many serious injuries or even deaths have resulted from the negligence of or lack of proper care by medical professionals. When looking at medical errors, it is important to understand what types of things may be considered errors and how they are classified.

According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, there are 29 different errors that are classified as never events. The term arose 15 years ago to describe those errors that were highly shocking and that one would consider should never happen. Among the different categories of never events are care management and surgical errors. Examples of care management never events include falls within a hospital or other health care setting, lack of appropriate follow up after tests, medication errors and birth injuries to mothers or babies in low-risk pregnancies. The development of serious ulcers like bed sores may also be included in this grouping.

Examples of surgical never events include patient death during or immediately after a surgery, having an object left inside a patient after a procedure, performing the wrong surgery or operating on the wrong person or part of the body.

This information is not intended to provide legal advice but is instead meant to give Massachusetts residents an overview of the types of things that may be considered serious medical errors.

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