As its name implies, a "never event" should never happen. Doctor-introduced in 2001, the phrase refers to obviously preventable medical or care errors that injure or kill patients.
As of 2011, quality care professionals have identified 29 specific never events across seven broad care categories, including performing surgery on the incorrect body part or artificially inseminating the wrong donor egg.
Often, nurses are the best medical services providers to identify never event risks while also being in the best positions to prevent them from ever occurring. Frequently on-site and engaging patients, nurses become intimately familiar with patients’ circumstances and conditions.
Understanding how and when never events occur is the first step in developing a plan to intervene when situations pose risks.
Identifying risks for any individual patient requires understanding her or his particular frailties and conditions. Older adults who have mobility difficulties may be susceptible to falls, for example, and caregivers should take extra care when moving or transiting them.
Proper protocol awareness is another necessity to prevent never events from occurring. Failure to follow these procedures can increase risks, so ensuring adequate staff training can help reduce injuries resulting from incompetence or negligence.
Surgical patients can suffer any number of unintended and severe injuries due to inadvertent proper procedure neglect. Excess or insufficient anesthesia, improper equipment sterilization, and even incorrect organ removal cause serious injuries or death, require additional hospital time, and add extra expenses as well as invite legal claims.
A well-rested nurse is an attentive nurse, so one of the best preventive measures you can take is to practice self-care.Finally, the best way to avoid a never event on your next shift is to follow established protocols every day and with every patient. Regardless of the clinic you work in, the processes in place to prevent never events are there to protect your safety as well as that of your patients.