Never Events in UK General Practice: A Survey of the Views of General Practitioners on Their Frequency and Acceptability as a Safety Improvement Approach

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Never events (NEs) are serious preventable patient safety incidents and are a component of formal quality and safety improvement (Q&SI) policies in the United Kingdom and elsewhere. A preliminary list of NEs for UK general practice has been developed, but the frequency of these events, or their acceptability to general practitioner (GPs) as a Q&SI approach, is currently unknown. The study aims to estimate (1) the frequency of 10 NEs occurring within GPs' own practices and (2) the extent to which the NE approach is perceived as acceptable for use.


General practitioners were surveyed, and mixed-effects logistic regression models examined the relationship between GP opinions of NE, estimates of NE frequency, and the characteristics of the GPs and their practices.


Responses from 556 GPs in 412 practices were analyzed. Most participants (70%–88%, depending on the NE) agreed that the described incident should be designated as a NE. Three NEs were estimated to have occurred in less than 4% of practices in the last year; however, two NEs were estimated to have occurred in 45% to 61% of the practices. General practitioners reporting that a NE had occurred in their practice in the last year were significantly less likely to agree with the designation as a NE compared with GPs not reporting a NE (odds ratio, 0.42; 95% CI = 0.36–0.49).


The NE approach may have Q&SI potential for general practice, but further work to adapt the concept and content is required.

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