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How Common Are Medication Errors During Surgery?


According to a 2015 report by The Washington Post, nearly half of all surgeries at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) in Boston—one of the best hospitals in the United States and nationally known for being the leader in patient safety—involved some type of medication error or unintended side effects of a drug. Researchers said this rate is likely similar or much higher in other hospitals across the country. 

Between 2013 and 2014, 124 out of 277 operations at MGH involved at least one medication error or adverse drug event that harmed a patient. The study also claimed that over one-third of the drug-related mistakes—including three life-threatening errors—which were observed caused an injury. Fortunately, no patients died because of those errors. 

According to researchers, the most observed medication errors include: 

  • Documentation errors 

  • Failure to treat medication issues signaled by vital sign changes 

  • Incorrect dosages 

  • Labeling errors 

  • Lack of proper medication in a timely manner 

During an operation, an average of approximately 10 medications were given. Researchers found that some type of mistake occurred in about one in 20 medications, which equals to every other surgery.  

The medications commonly associated with errors were fentanyl, a powerful synthetic opioid that treats severe pain; propofol, which is a sedative generally used in the operating room; and phenylephrine, which increases blood pressure in patients with very low blood pressure. 

Remember, there is a huge difference in environment between operating rooms and other hospital settings. Healthcare providers in the operating home may not have time to double- and triple-check medications before giving patients medications. 

If you received the wrong medication or wrong dosage during surgery in Weston, FL, contact Rash Mueller today at (954) 914-7116 for a free initial consultation. Let our experienced medical malpractice team protect your rights and best interests. 

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