Medication Errors During Surgery Injure Patients

medication-errors-during-surgeryA recent study revealed that medication errors occur in half of all surgical procedures at the nations top hospitals, putting patients lives at risk. A third of drug errors observed in the study caused patient harm or adverse drug events.

For the purpose of this study, which was published in the October 2015 edition of Anesthesiology, over 275 surgeries were observed at the elite Massachusetts General Hospital. During these procedures, 3,671 medication administrations were observed.

The study was the first of its kind to measure drug-related errors over the perioperative period, spanning the period immediately before, during and directly following a surgery. Prior to this study, self-reported statistics were used to determine error rate, which is known to be lower than the actual rate of error.

Perhaps the most disturbing result uncovered during the study is that 80 percent of the observed drug errors were deemed to have been preventable.

Which Drug-Related Errors Are Most Common?

Some of the most common drug-related errors during surgery included:

  • Failure to treat health issues indicated by patient vitals before, during or following a surgical procedure
  • Mislabeled medications
  • Administering the wrong medication

More errors in medication administration were observed in longer surgeries, specifically those spanning six or more hours. Errors were found to be more common during operations involving higher numbers of drug administrations, especially those with 13 or more administrations.

National Error Rate Could be Higher

Massachusetts General Hospital is considered to be a leader in regards to patient safety. Prior to the study, the hospital had already put in place a number of operating room safety procedures designed to protect patients. Because of these efforts, researchers suspect that the national surgical drug administration error rate could be much higher in other U.S. hospitals than the 50 percent error rate observed in the study.

If you or a loved one has been harmed by a medication error during surgery, the medical malpractice lawyers at GWC Injury Lawyers are committed to helping you pursue justice.