STUDY: High Rates of Medication Errors During Surgery

Drug-Related Errors Commonly Take Place During Surgeries

Medication Errors During Surgery

A new study has revealed that medication errors during surgery occur at a shockingly high frequency.

Almost 50 percent of surgeries taking place at one of the nations top hospitals, Massachusetts General Hospital, had at least one drug-related error. That rate could be even higher in other U.S. hospitals.

Medication errors have serious consequences, causing adverse drug events and even injury or death. Medical professionals need to be held accountable for negligent errors that can cause harm to the patients who trust them. Gordon & Partners can assist you in pursuing a medical malpractice claim.

Researchers Uncover High Error Rate

Between 2013 and 2014, researchers observed a total of 277 surgeries performed at Massachusetts General Hospital. In 124 of these procedures, at least one medication error or drug-involved incident caused harm to a patient.

More than one-third of these errors caused injury to a patient, including three errors that were considered life-threatening. Fortunately, no patients died as a result of the errors.

Because Massachusetts General Hospital is widely regarded as a leading hospital in the country, it can be assumed that error rates at other facilities across the U.S. may be much higher.

Common Drug-Related Errors

The most commonly observed medication errors researchers found were:

  • Medication labeling mistakes
  • Dosage errors
  • Needed medications were not administered

Medications which were often found to be used in conjunction with the medical errors include:

  • Fentanyl, a strong medication used to control pain
  • Phenylephrine, a medication administered to increase a patients blood pressure
  • Propofol, a sedative given during surgical procedures

Numbers Higher than Previous Reports

This study found an error rate that is much higher than numbers which have been previously reported. Prior to this study, there has been little research regarding medication errors in surgical scenarios; most data has been self-reported. Clinicians find little surprise that the self-reported error rate was much lower than the error rate found through the study.

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