Shocking Number of Surgeries Involve Medication Errors

patient cardiogram monitoring in operation room

A 2015 study that analyzed the rate of medication errors in surgeries that were performed at Massachusetts General Hospital had a shocking conclusion: a mistake or adverse event occurred in every second surgery, as well as in five percent of drug administrations. The study was presented at the Anesthesiology 2015 meeting in California, and summarized in the Harvard Gazette.

Patients Harmed as a Result of Frequent Surgical Errors

The study not only found that medication errors were made 50 percent of the time, but also that one-third of those errors result in an adverse event for the patient. 30 percent of these adverse events were deemed “significant”; 69 percent “serious”; and under two percent “life-threatening.” Further, nearly 80 percent of errors that were observed in the study were concluded to be preventable.

The errors that were observed were common medication errors, including incorrect labeling of drugs,  failing to attend to a problem indicated by a patient’s symptoms/vital signs, incorrectly documenting patient or drug information, and dosage errors.

Incorrect Dosage

Even if a patient is prescribed or given the correct medication, it is possible that he or she may be given the wrong dose. This can occur in prescription medicines if a doctor, nurse or pharmacist administers or dispenses the wrong dose or gives a patient incorrect instructions about the dosage amount to take on his or her own. With over-the-counter medication, it is possible that unclear or incorrect instructions on the packaging may lead to an incorrect dose. Too much or too little of a prescription or over-the-counter drug may prove harmful to a patient, leading to serious side effects or an unimproved condition.

When a Medication Error During Surgery Leads to Harm

When a preventable medication error during surgery leads to patient harm, the affected patient has the right to take action. At the law offices of Napoli Shkolnik PLLC, we believe that doctors should be held liable when patients suffer due to their negligence. To learn more about your rights after being injured as a result of a surgical or other medical error, contact us today. A consultation with our medical malpractice team is completely confidential. Contact a Napoli Shkolnik medical malpractice attorney to discuss your specific circumstances.