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News archive - November 2012

Driving down the numbers of ‘never events’

Driving down the numbers of ‘never events’

NEW DATA shows that more than 300 ‘never events’ were reported to Strategic Health Authorities over the past year. In 2011, the Government tripled the number of categories that are defined as a never event from eight to 25, so it is not possible to compare the latest figures with previous data as it is the first time that 17 of the categories have been reported on.

The vast majority of never events are surgical. The NHS Commissioning Board is setting up a taskforce to look at surgical never events, in order to make sure that these are eradicated from NHS surgery.

The 2011/12 data shows that 326 never events were reported to Strategic Health Authorities, with the most common types of incident being:

  • Retained foreign objects post-operation (161 incidents reported)
  • Surgery on the wrong part of the body (70 incidents)
  • Wrong implant or prosthesis (41 incidents)
  • Misplaced nasogastric tubes (23 incidents)

NHS medical director Sir Bruce Keogh said: “There are simple ways to prevent them occurring, like the Surgical Safety Checklist, and everyone working in the NHS should ensure that the checklist is being followed.”

Commissioners, through the contracts they have with providers, have the ability to recover the costs of an episode of care in which a never event occurs so that there is no cost to the public for that episode of care.

The NHS treats an estimated one million people every 36 hours.



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