Experts in Never Event Claims
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Expertise for Never Event Claims
Never Event claims are cases of medical negligence which cause serious injury. Yet they were easily avoidable. In other words, they are something that should simply never happen because the information exists to prevent them from occurring.
Nevertheless, they do.
In the nine months between April and December 2017, NHS England reports 362 Never Event cases. That’s 362 times when a patient suffers harm – sometimes mildly, other times serious, because of avoidable failings in their care. The NHS proactively addresses the existence of so-called Never Events in its hospital and care facilities.
A Never Event is a significant concern for loads of different, sensible reasons:
- because of the impact it has on the life of the victim and their family;
- because it indicates that safety recommendations and national guidance from the NHS (which they didn’t implement).
A Never Event is an alarm to notify authorities that care from an organisation could be failing in many areas. But here, they don’t adopt even the basic best practice guidelines to prevent such accidents from happening. Therefore, there’s a strong possibility that they are failing to protect their patients in other areas as well.
You should seek legal advice from a medical negligence solicitor as early as possible if you or your loved one:
- has been the victim of a Never Event;
- if you believe that their injury was the result of negligence.
That way, you can get the compensation you need to help your recovery.
Types and Frequency of Never Events
As of 2015, the NHS’s list of Never Event categories includes over a dozen scenarios which shouldn’t happen. Subsequently, the list was subject to a revision in January 2018. Details below show the most common types of Never Events along with the number of cases recorded by NHS England between 1 April 2017 and 31st December 2017.
Wrong-site surgery – 150 instances
This includes as follows:
- Three cases of a partial hysterectomy to only remove their uterus (possibly fallopian tubes also). Yet instead, there was the removal of their ovaries, leaving them completely infertile;
- One occurrence of the wrong area of a breast getting a biopsy, greatly increasing the risk of cancer misdiagnosis, and;
- 21 instances in which removal of the wrong teeth occurred.
Retained foreign object post-procedure – 97 instances
Examples included nine occasions when a central guidewire was not removed; one instance of a surgical glove being left behind in a patient; and four occasions when a surgical needle remains.
Wrong implant/prosthesis – 50 instances
There were 13 occurrences of the wrong type of implant or prosthesis, and 18 times when the incorrect lens was. Three reported occasions involved the insertion of an incorrect stent.
Wrong route of administration of medication
Most cases during this time occur when medicine via an intravenous epidural occurs.
Other types of Never Events include:
- Falls from poorly restricted windows;
- Failure to install collapsible shower rails;
- Misplaced naso or oro-gastric tubes;
- Scalding of patients;
- Chest or neck entrapment in bed rails.
Meanwhile, some NHS England trusts only had one Never Event during the nine months between April and December 2017. In contrast, several others record as many as six never events. At the top of the table was the University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust.
Why do Never Events Happen?
So the risk of a Never Event is known. There is research to identify the cause and best way to prevent it from occurring. As a result, guidelines are published.
So why do they happen at all? The short answer is human error, but unfortunately, the truth is more complex.
A study in the US looked at 69 Never Events and identified 628 contributing human factors ranging from failing to understand information to confirmation bias and poor communication. Factors like how tired a surgeon is or how familiar a team is with working with each other were also identified as so-called cognitive factors that contribute to Never Events. The report’s recommendations to minimise the risk of Never Events happening were to improve communication and the way technology is used, and utilise teams more efficiently.
Claiming Compensation for a Never Event
Any medical negligence claim, including Never Event claims, need to fulfil specific criteria. The following events occur to get our registered office of top clinical negligence solicitors on your side on a No Win, No Fee basis in England and Wales.
1. You need to suffer an injury
Not all cases of negligence will cause an injury and without this, there is no reason to claim for damages. If you have received negligent care but were not injured, the NHS complaints process will help give you answers and reassurance that appropriate steps will be taken to prevent similar negligence happening to another patient – maybe someone who would not be as fortunate as you were to escape an injury.
2. Someone needs to be at fault
Without being able to identify who is responsible for your injury, there is no organisation from whom to request payment of compensation. Your solicitor will gather the evidence necessary to prove liability against the medical professionals in question, including any related medical reports, scans, x-rays and photographs.
They may take statements from witnesses, which is one reason why it is important to talk to a medical negligence solicitor as soon as possible after the event when your memory and those of witnesses is fresher and more reliable.
3. You meet the three-year time limit
In essence, the incident happens, or you became aware that an injury results from negligence:
- within the last three years;
- if you are over 18 years old and;
- of a sound legal mind.
There is no time limit for bringing a claim for a child or someone who cannot do so themselves.
Medical negligence claims differ from other types of personal injury claims. In short, the claimant must prove that the standard of medical care they receive is below the acceptable industry standard. Proving negligence is the most difficult part of any compensation claim and it is vital to the success of your application that you engage the services of an expert medical negligence solicitor who has experience in this area.
The sooner you make a start then the more positive the outcome is likely to be, so contact us today for more information. Whether you phone or use our online form, we will arrange a conversation with an expert who can answer your questions and determine whether your application for compensation is likely to be successful.
Never Event Claims FAQ
We appreciate that the claims process can seem confusing, especially if you have never had to seek legal advice before. To help, here are the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about Never Event Claims.
Can I make a claim?
As long as you meet the three main criteria, even if the other party is only partially responsible, then it is possible that you have the right to claim compensation for medical negligence.
How much compensation will I receive?
The amount of compensation you receive will depend on two factors. The first is how bad your injury is, and the impact that this injury and recovery time has on your life. People who experience significant life-changing injuries usually earn more compensation than someone who suffers a less serious injury.
The second factor is the financial cost the injury places on you: Special Damages. These will reimburse you for expenses you would not incur if not for the Never Event. It can include the cost of reasonable medical care, lost wages, and even things like the cost of retraining if your injury has left you unable to work in the same capacity as you could before.
Once your solicitor has a good understanding of the nature of your injury then they will be able to give you an estimate of the amount of compensation you will receive.
Can I claim Never Event compensation for someone who has died?
If you have lost a child, parent or spouse as the result of medical negligence, then you may be entitled to claim compensation. Payments for death caused by medical negligence will include an amount in recognition of the pain and suffering experienced by the deceased, but this amount is usually quite low. It may be possible to claim for funeral expenses, and there are some occasions when a claimant can also claim bereavement damages.
If a Never Event causes or contributes to the death of a victim with dependents, then it is possible to claim damages to recognise the financial loss the death has had on their children now and in the future. Your medical negligence solicitor can also help with advice and guidance if there is an inquest, as is common in fatal Never Event cases.
Can I claim compensation for my child?
You can act as a litigation friend for a child if you are a parent or guardian, or if you have been appointed by the court to act in this way. Any compensation paid will go into a trust to be managed on behalf of the child until they turn 18 or are legally able to manage their financial affairs. A judge will have to oversee the terms of the compensation payment and the establishment of the trust to ensure that both meet the child’s best interest.
What if I suffer a Never Event but not an injury?
You need to have been hurt for damages to be awarded. A “near miss” is not sufficient cause to claim compensation. However, the serious incident should be recorded, and you can submit a complaint to the responsible NHS trust.
Will someone face discipline or lose their job if I make a claim?
A successful compensation claim won’t necessarily result in any disciplinary action against the responsible individual. Rather, the purpose of compensation is to:
- recognise your injury officially, and;
- make sure you have access to the resources you need to make the best possible recovery.
The NHS uses the reporting of Never Events as a learning tool to identify areas of weakness in their service and standard of care. Although the person in the NHS investigating the incident may make a referral (for example, to the department head or HR), their role is to find the cause and recommend actions to prevent it from recurring.
How long does a Never Event compensation claim take?
As with any compensation claim for medical negligence, there is no definitive processing time. The average claim takes between 12 and 18 months. Claims can take less than a year if the injury is temporary and liability is obvious, or significantly longer if the long-term implications to a patient’s health are unclear, as is the case in Never Events that cause a degree of brain damage or paralysis.
Claims also take longer if there is a disagreement over the level of liability, and if several years have lapsed and it is difficult to find the evidence necessary to prove negligence.
How can I afford to pay for a claim?
Top-quality legal advice is expensive, and some people may delay talking to a lawyer because they worry they will not be able to afford to make a claim. If you do not already have an insurance policy that covers your legal costs, or you do not want to put yourself in financial risk by using your own money, then a No Win, No Fee* claim may be an option for you.
No Win, No Fee Claims make legal representation from a specialist medical negligence solicitor affordable for everyone who needs it. We handle most of our claims this way. You can find out whether this is an option for you by calling or messaging us.
*Please note that conditions apply.