Stopping “Never Events”

Doctor talking to patient

Healthcare practitioners and leaders often dissect and actively work to prevent never events.  These are serious preventable incidents that would not occur if accepted procedures and standards of care were followed (i.e., they never should happen).   Specifically, an incident is a never event if..

It’s happened in the past and is a risk people know about.

Existing national recommendations, if followed, would have prevented this from occurring – think hand washing, or checking equipment after surgery to make sure nothing was left in the patient.

You can easily measure the frequency of the never event and we know that it caused the patient harm.

In healthcare, common never events include: wrong site surgery (wrong arm, patient, or organ), wrongly prepared or delivered medications, preventable patient falls, and burns from scalding liquids during bathing or meals.

While the home of never events is typically healthcare, you can apply the idea to any industry to reveal opportunities for improvement.  Here are some examples from our experience in three industries that damage the customer experience and prevent you from achieving business results.


  • A guest receives an order that ignores her specific requests.
  • A server asks a party if they would like a second bottle of wine long after their glasses have gone empty and near the end of the meal.
#list-style-63926fc2359f3 ul li:before { font-family:"FontAwesome"; content: "\f00c"; color: }

Airlines and Aviation

  • An airline cancels a flight because of Flight Attendant or Pilot call-offs.
  • A plane repair is completed incorrectly causing a delay in take-off, or worse, an emergency landing.
#list-style-63926fc235c7c ul li:before { font-family:"FontAwesome"; content: "\f00c"; color: }

Retail and Sales

  • Stock loss prevents a discount retailer from showing a profit.
  • Sales associates can’t answer basic questions about products or suggest products to solve basic customer problems or requests.
#list-style-63926fc235e46 ul li:before { font-family:"FontAwesome"; content: "\f00c"; color: }

Take a moment to think about your company’s most damaging never events.  What are the main causes?  Sometimes it’s outdated-technology or poor planning that’s at fault, but most never events are linked to poor hires and not engaging or developing your team. Never events also include the loss of employees who consistently live your brand and execute your intended customer experience. Hiring people who lack the skills, abilities, and traits necessary for performance can easily lead to preventable failures: an inability to follow procedures like steps of care or service and increase in mistakes (e.g., aircraft maintenance and repairs or wrongly prepared food).

The quality of your employees influences your culture.  A weak or inconsistent culture and missing links in developing and engaging talent can lead to huge gaps in the customer or patient experience, such as customers believing their questions went unanswered and problems unsolved, or patients not receiving compassionate quality care.

Our Team has more than three decades of experience as a trusted resource for solutions that support our customers’ ability to hire and engage top talent – including hiring assessments.  We are experts at identifying solutions to the never events that are stopping you from exceeding your goals.  What are common never events affecting your team and enterprise?  Share in the comments below or reach out to our Team – we are eager to help you build skilled, enthusiastic, and committed teams that get results.

.btn-63926fc236275 { background-color:#2e008b; color:#ffffff; margin-bottom:15px; } .btn-63926fc236275:hover { background-color:#270076; color:#ffffff; }
Related Posts

Leave a Comment

Ripped paper revealing the word storytellingApplicant completing job application on a laptop