COMMENTARY

Your Malpractice Risk When Your Hospitalized Patient Has a "Never Event"

Brian W. Whitelaw, Esq.

Disclosures

February 09, 2010

In This Article

An Ominous Sound

While this issue is so new that not many cases have yet hinged on the term "never event," the term has a foreboding and ominous ring to it that plaintiffs' lawyers love. It is likely to become a more important factor in future cases. Imagine that your deposition is being taken for Mr. Smith's case. The plaintiff's lawyer asks these questions:

  • "Now Doctor, you are familiar with the term ‘never event,’ aren't you?"

  • "The federal government has a list of injuries a patient should never suffer in a hospital, doesn't it?"

  • "Our government considers these ‘Never Events’ to be such serious errors in medical care, and so easily prevented, that Medicare won't even pay the doctor or hospital for treatment needed when these ‘never events’ occur, true?"

  • "And inpatient fall is on that list, isn't it? It's an event the federal government considers a serious preventable medical error that should never happen, true?"

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