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What are 'never events?'

The list of things that can go wrong in a hospital can seem endless. If you or a loved one is going into the hospital, particularly if it's for a surgical procedure, more than a few have likely crossed your mind. However, last year, Health Quality Ontario compiled a list of 15 "never events." These are serious medical errors that can cause severe harm or death, yet are preventable if hospital staff members are doing their jobs as they should and using the proper checks and balances.

The list is based on input gathered from health care workers as well as patients, families of patients and policy makers. Following are the top five "never events:"

-- Surgical errors including procedures done on the wrong patient or the wrong part of the body or the wrong procedure

-- The wrong blood, biological implant or tissue given to a patient

-- A foreign object left in a surgical patient in error

-- Serious harm or death caused due to improperly-sterilized instruments or equipment

-- Serious harm or death caused by medication administered to a patient whose allergy to it had been identified or by the failure to ask if a patient was allergic to a medication before administering it.

Patients or their surviving family members who have been impacted by one of these events may be able to file a negligence lawsuit against the facility in which it occurred. They may also choose to file a complaint with the Canadian College of Physicians and Surgeons against the doctor who was in charge of the patient's care. An Ontario lawyer with experience in medical malpractice cases can advise you about your options and the merits of a negligence lawsuit.

Source: FindLaw Canada, "Canada comes up with list of events that should never happen in hospitals," Yegana Pejman, accessed Feb. 26, 2016

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