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Medication Errors Are Common During Surgical Procedures

Written by Berkowitz

Connecticut's Medication Error Attorneys - Berkowitz and Hanna LLCIf you are having a surgery performed, it is likely that you will have some sort of medication – whether that is IV fluids, antibiotics, etc. According to an article in the Boston Globe in October 2015, about half of all surgeries involved some form of medication error or unintended side effect of the medication used. This study was conducted at one of the country’s most prestigious hospitals – showing that even those with excellent reputations can commit fatal errors.

What the Study Discovered

The study was conducted at Massachusetts General Hospital where researchers from the anesthesiology department observed 277 procedures – a high number compared to data collected in the past. The reason for the high number of procedures was because in the past, data was self-reported instead of directly observed. When relying on self-reporting, it was found that the number of medication errors was almost non-existent.

According to the study published in the journal of Anesthesiology, more than one-third of those observed procedures encountered some type of error that harmed the patient.

This isn’t the first time hospitals have conducted studies as a way to reduce the number of errors seen in their facilities. Since 1999, reducing medical errors has become a big concern in hospitals around the country. That is when the Institute of Medicine identified medical errors as the leading cause of death in the United States – higher than car crashes and even breast cancer. Since 1999, hospitals have been working diligently to improve patient safety and have even created checklists to avoid any lapses in care.

Despite all of their efforts, errors will still occur – especially when it comes to surgeries and the medications prescribed. That is because medication errors and surgeries have yet to be assessed in any type of systematic way.

Drugs administered during an operation do not have the same safeguards as regular prescriptions or medications administered during a patient’s hospital stay. Prescriptions are typically double-checked, but in an operating room, things happen quickly and there is no time to verify or double check a patient’s prescription -which increases the likelihood for errors.

In this particular study, only three life-threatening errors were found and there were no patient deaths that occurred. In most of the cases, there were elevated risks for infections or changes in vital signs that prompted medical professionals to correct the error.

Some of the errors that were noted in the study included:

  1. Wrong medication administered or wrong dose
  2. Improper labeling of drugs
  3. Breaches in prescription protocols
  4. Not verifying patient’s medical history or potential allergies to medications

The study concluded that one out of 20 drug administrations encountered an error of some form. Also, operations that lasted more than six hours were more likely to see an error that shorter surgical procedures.

Were You Injured During Surgery?

If you or a loved one suffered from a medication error during surgery, you may be entitled to compensation. It is important to have your case evaluated by a CT medical malpractice attorney first to assess if your physician acted negligently. Contact Berkowitz and Hanna LLC today to schedule a no obligation case evaluation for your potential medical malpractice claim. Call 866-479-7909 or contact us online to get started.