For patients in New Jersey, a never event is a medical outcome that should never happen in a hospital. These are serious mistakes by the care team or a major lapse in awareness. Medicare and Medicaid also call them “hospital-acquired conditions” because they are outcomes that occur to patients in hospitals.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid targeted specific medical outcomes with the term “never event” in order to emphasize that they should not happen if a hospital is running correctly. A hospital where this happens will face penalties, including financial ones, and patients will not be required to pay for the cost of fixing them. Examples of never events include a surgery team that operates on the wrong limb, infections at an IV site, a serious fall, and a blood transfusion that used the wrong blood type.
These events can pose a serious risk to the health and safety of the patient, and they also constitute a misstep by more than one member of the care team. That is why they are taken so seriously– multiple people had to make major errors for them to happen, and the result can be a grave risk. These events are often an example of medical malpractice due to the level of neglect or inattention that they imply. Their scrutiny from Medicare and Medicaid shines a spotlight on them and illustrates why they should never happen in a properly-staffed hospital.
A never event shows that the care team’s negligence threatened the life or health of a patient in a hospital when it did not need to take place.