Study shows mistakes with medication may be common during surgery
A recent study has helped shed light on the frequency of preventable and potentially harmful medication errors during surgical procedures.
In 2013, research published in the Journal of Patient Safety estimated that up to 410,000 Americans die yearly from preventable medical mistakes. According to National Public Radio, this makes medical errors the third leading cause of death in the U.S. Such errors may also be a common cause of serious complications or permanent injuries among people in Fayetteville.
The risk of these unnecessary medical errors may be especially high during surgery, given the complex, fast-paced nature of most surgical procedures. Troublingly, one new study suggests that potentially harmful medication errors may occur in more than half of all surgeries.
High observed error rates
Forbes reports that the study was conducted at Massachusetts General Hospital, which is recognized as a leader in patient safety. This makes the results especially worrisome, since other hospitals may have even higher error rates. Researchers observed over 3,600 medication administrations that were performed over the course of 277 surgeries. According to The Washington Post, the researchers observed the following rates of mistakes:
Errors were made in 124 of the surgeries, or over half of the observed procedures.
Over one-third of the mistakes resulted in injury to patients.
Three of the mistakes were life-threatening.
Troublingly, four out of five of the observed mistakes were classified as preventable. The most common errors included issues with labeling or dosage. Additionally, many of the mistakes involved doctors failing to recognize that giving a patient a medication was necessary.
The Washington Post notes that these errors may occur so frequently due to the nature of surgical medication administrations. Under other circumstances, healthcare professionals may carefully review each medication before giving it to a patient. However, during surgery, necessary medications often must be administered immediately to prevent other complications. This may significantly raise the risk of surgical and post-operative errors.
The risk of mistakes may also be higher during longer surgeries. According to the study, an average surgery requires ten medication administrations, and errors occur during about one in twenty administrations. The likelihood of errors rises when patients must be given more medication. Forbes states that in this study, errors happened most frequently in surgeries that involved over 13 medication administrations or lasted at least six hours.
Some medication errors may arise under unavoidable circumstances. However, if the study is any indicator, many of these mistakes happen needlessly. The victims of these errors may legal have recourse if they can show that a competent physician wouldn't reasonably have made the same mistake. In Arkansas, however, victims generally must file claims within two years of the date of injury to be eligible to pursue compensation.
Taking action within this timeframe and proving that a medication error represented malpractice can be challenging. To learn more about adequately documenting and filing a claim, victims may want to speak with a medical malpractice attorney.