NHS England’s website defines “never events” as “.. serious incidents that are entirely preventable because guidance or safety recommendations providing strong systemic protective barriers are available at a national level, and should have been implemented by all healthcare providers”.

Never events include incidents such as a foreign objects being left in a patient, carrying out surgery on the incorrect area and use of the wrong implant/prosthesis.

Each year a document is published by NHS England detailing the type and number of incidents reported, in addition to details of the never events reported by each hospital trust.

The most recent summary published by NHS England on 10th March 2022 shows that between 1st April 2021 and 31st January 2022, 349 incidents, which meet the definition of never events, were reported (numbers are subject to change as local investigations are completed).  This includes 146 incidents categorised as “wrong site surgery”, 85 incidents of “retained foreign object post procedure” and 42 incidents of “wrong implant/prosthesis”.

Wrong site surgery is one of the most common surgical never events, which can include situations where a surgical procedure is performed on the wrong patient or on the wrong part of the body.  The most recent summary published by NHS England lists the following examples:

  • Gastroscopy intended for another patient (2)
  • Incision to wrong finger (3)
  • Injection to wrong eye (6)
  • Wrong skin lesion removed (14)

Other categories of incidents reported as never events during the period between 1st April 2021 and 31st January 2022 include misplaced naso or oro gastric tubes, administration of medication by the wrong route and overdose of insulin due to abbreviations or incorrect advice.

Between 1st April 2020 and 31st March 2021, 364 serious incidents met the definition of a never event.  It can be seen from these figures that the number of never events remains at a high level.

If you have experienced the consequences of a never event, the medical negligence team at Maxwell Hodge will be happy to advise you and guide you through the process of making a claim.

Cases of Medical/Clinical Negligence are highly complex and require expert legal advice.  Our Medical Negligence Team are experts and have been representing injured people and their families for decades.