In a new study reported in the journal Anesthesiology testing how often medication errors occur during surgery, researchers report that mistakes were made during almost half of the operations they analyzed. The most frequently observed errors included drug labeling errors, incorrect dosing, drug documentation mistakes, and/or failing to properly treat changes in a patient’s vital signs during surgery.
According to The Boston Globe, a medication error or adverse drug event was documented in 124 of 277 surgeries. Of the 3,675 medication administrations, 193 medication errors and adverse drug events were recorded. And almost 80 percent of those events were determined to have been preventable.
The findings stem from the in house efforts of Boston based Massachusetts General Hospital in an attempt to quantify and address drug-error risk during surgery. This was the first study to measure the rates of medication errors and side effects during the “perioperative period,” which is the time immediately before, during, and immediately after a procedure.
Perhaps most disturbing is the response from doctors and medical insiders to the study. A writer with Forbes interviewed several clinicians after the study was published and found most were not surprised at the results. In fact, several commented that they felt the actual number of errors that occur during surgeries was probably much higher. The writer was struck that most of these errors were classified as preventable. The technologies already exist to significantly reduce these types of life threatening errors, but many hospitals don’t take the necessary steps to address the problem.
The study authors noted that rigorous safety checks commonly in place across many hospital settings are often loosened or bypassed in the surgical environment, when fast-moving events and changing circumstances can require quick decisions and immediate action.
Anyone privy to this study and planning on having a surgical procedure should be appalled and horrified by these findings. A recent study by The Journal of Patient Safety found that up to 400,000 people are killed each year due to preventable medical errors (which includes medication errors) and hospital acquired infections. This makes medical errors the third leading cause of death in America, behind the number one killer, heart disease, and the second leading cause of death — cancer.
If you have had a medical procedure that caused injury due to negligence of medical professionals or you lost a loved one due to a preventable medical error like 400,000 other Americans fall victim to, you should seek the services of an experienced personal injury lawyer. Contact attorney Michael Pence to schedule your Consultation.