Never event claims may be possible when you have suffered unnecessary harm due to an act of medical negligence which is identified as a ‘never event’. If you go to a medical professional for treatment, then they owe you a duty of care. This means that the medical professionals looking after you should provide you with a standard level of care.
However, negligent mistakes are, unfortunately, sometimes made and this can prove harmful to you. There may be an expected level of suffering or harm involved in your treatment plan. However, if the treatment causes you undue further suffering or an unnecessary new illness or injury because of substandard care, the healthcare professional could be seen as negligent.
Some medical negligence instances are known as never events. These are serious and entirely avoidable and preventable instances of negligence. Never events can cause severe harm to patients and some cases can even, tragically, lead to death.
In this guide, we’ll explain how never event claims work and how you may be able to start your own.
Select a Section
1. What Are Never Event Claims?
2. List Of Never Event Examples
3. Where Can Never Events Happen?
4. Clinical Negligence Compensation Awards In The UK
5. Am I Eligible To Make A No Win No Fee Medical Negligence Claim?
6. Claim Compensation For A Never Event Today
7. More Medical Negligence Guides
8. Never Event Claims FAQ
Never events are defined by the NHS as serious patient safety incidents that should be completely avoidable because available guidance and safety recommendations are in place. These protective barriers are available at a national level and should be implemented by all healthcare providers.
A healthcare professional or hospital could cause a never event if they breach their duty of care towards a patient by failing to follow safety guidance while treating them.
The potential patient safety incidents that fall under never events are considered very serious since they can potentially cause a lot of harm to patients. The effects of a never event may lead to long-term or even permanent issues for the patient. In the worst cases, a never event could even lead to the death of a patient.
According to provisional NHS statistics, between 1st April and 30th September 2021, 195 serious incidents were recorded by NHS England that met the definition of a never event.
If you suffer harm due to a never event, you could claim compensation for physical and mental pain as well as financial losses caused by your injuries.
A range of errors that could potentially occur when a healthcare provider is treating a patient can be identified as a never event. The NHS has listed the errors that are considered never events. All healthcare providers across Britain should avoid ever making these mistakes. The errors are considered unlikely as long as healthcare providers follow existing safety procedures while treating patients. The list of never events fall into a few main categories: surgical, medication, mental health and general.
Examples of never events include the following:
- Wrong-site surgery (where the wrong part of the body is operated on)
- An incorrect implant or prosthesis is fitted
- A foreign object is left in a patient’s body after a procedure
- Medication is administered by the wrong route
- A patient is given an overdose of methotrexate during non-cancer treatment
- Failure to install a collapsible shower or curtain rails that are functional (mental health)
- A patient falls from a poorly restricted window
- A patient’s neck or chest becomes trapped between bed rails or in a bed frame or mattress
- Scalding by water used for washing or bathing
Never events can potentially occur in hospitals (including walk-in centres) and mental health trusts. They can happen in such places whether they are run by the NHS or a private company. According to data from the Private Healthcare Information Network (PHIN), 21 never events involving self-pay or insured healthcare patients occurred in 2019.
If you are a victim of a never event, then any potential compensation claim you make will usually be made against the trust or private company which runs the centre you were treated at, rather than any individual staff.
You may have questions about how much medical negligence compensation people receive for never event claims. The amount you could be offered when you make such a claim can vary depending on several key factors. These factors include what type of injuries you suffered due to the never event, their severity and how much of an impact they’ve had on your life.
The compensation table below shows potential compensation brackets based on different injuries. Compensation for injuries you’ve suffered because of medical negligence are categorised under general damages.
The brackets shown in the above compensation table are based on those provided by the Judicial College Guidelines. Solicitors use these guidelines during never event claims to help when valuing injuries. The compensation brackets are by no means a guarantee of how much compensation you could receive in your own never event claim. You can contact our advisors at Medical Negligence UK for guidance on your potential compensation payout based on the details of your case.
Special Damages In A Never Event Claim
If you are able to claim compensation for your injuries under general damages, potentially you could also be eligible to receive a payout for special damages. Special damages are designed to cover you for any financial losses which are directly related to the injuries that your case centres on.
Examples of the types of financial losses that may be claimed as special damages include:
- Loss of income if your injuries have led you to lose wages (through unpaid leave, for example).
- Loss of future potential earnings if you have had to take on a different job that pays less than the one you had prior to your injuries.
- The cost of expenses you incurred when travelling to receive treatment for your injuries.
It’s important to highlight that you will need proof of expenses (such as receipts, for instance) in order to claim them back as special damages.
If you have suffered unnecessarily due to a never event or another form of medical negligence, then you may be able to claim compensation for this. There are certain requirements that need to be met in order to start a claim and have a realistic chance of success. You will need to be able to establish, with evidence, that a never event (or another form of negligence) occurred. This would be a breach of duty of care. You’ll also need to be able to show that this breach caused or worsened your unnecessary injuries.
You also need to make sure that you start your medical negligence claim within the correct time limit. Under the Limitation Act 1980, a medical negligence claim has to be started within three years of when it occurred or when you gained knowledge that negligence at least contributed to your injuries. If the latter applies, this is known as the date of knowledge.
Exceptions can apply to the three-year time limit for claiming. If you are under the age of 18, then the time limit is frozen. In this case, the three-year time limit would start when you turn 18. However, a representative called a litigation friend may be able to start a claim on your behalf before your 18th birthday.
If you lack the mental capacity to claim, a litigation friend could claim on your behalf. But if you recover sufficient mental capacity to claim, you’d have three years from the date of recovery.
No Win No Fee
If you meet all the criteria set out, then you could look at starting a medical negligence claim using the services of a solicitor under a No Win No Fee agreement. This arrangement is formally known as a Conditional Fee Agreement (CFA). It can offer different benefits, including the below.
- You don’t have to pay your solicitor their fee upfront.
- You won’t need to pay the solicitor fees during the claim.
- Should your claim prove unsuccessful, you will not need to pay your solicitor’s fees.
- If your No Win No Fee claim is a success, then your solicitor would deduct a small percentage of the compensation. This is to cover their fee. The percentage they’re allowed to charge is capped by law.
You can contact Medical Negligence UK for advice on making a claim. We can help with any queries you may have about medical negligence claims, including never event claims. You can contact us through the following methods:
- Call us on the number above
- Use our live chat today for instant answers
For more guidance on never event claims, you can check out the following resources:
In this final section of our guide, we’ve answered some frequently asked questions about making a medical negligence claim for a never event.
Do never events require investigation?
NHS policy requires that an investigation should take place when a never event is reported by a healthcare provider.
How do you prevent never events in hospitals?
A combination of NHS guidance and safety recommendations for all hospitals and other healthcare centres are in place to prevent never events from occurring.
What are never events in nursing?
Many potential never events could occur in healthcare settings where nurses are present. Therefore, it is important for nurses to be aware of the guidance on never events as they may be directly involved in preventing or identifying such incidents.
Can you claim against the NHS for a never event?
If you can prove that you’ve suffered undue harm due to medical negligence by the NHS, then you may be entitled to claim compensation.
Thank you for reading our guide on never event claims.