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Medication Errors Found in Almost Half of All Surgeries

Richard A. Silver

February 29, 2016 

By Richard A. Silver, Co-chair, Medical Malpractice Committee, Connecticut Trial Lawyers Association; Listed in The Best Lawyers in America© for Medical Malpractice – Plaintiffs

In the first study that measured medication errors and adverse drug events during the perioperative period, nearly half of the operations included at least one medication error or adverse drug event, according to researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.

The study observed 225 anesthesia providers, including anesthesiologists, nurse anesthetists and resident physicians, during 277 randomly selected operations conducted at the hospital from November 2013 through June 2014.  Some 124 (45.1%) of the observed operations included at least one medication error or adverse drug event.

The most frequently observed errors were mistakes in labeling, incorrect dosage, neglecting to treat a problem indicated by the patient’s vital signs and documentation errors.

This new data now provides an understanding of the types of errors being made and their frequency in a surgical setting.  While this can be fast-paced and fluid hospital environment, this is also an area — like all hospital departments — where errors are simply not acceptable.  It is time that healthcare providers develop more focused strategies to prevent these types of errors to ensure patient safety.