Study: Medication errors during surgery are common

A recent study reveals that medication errors happen frequently during surgery, some of which lead to serious consequences for the patient.

People in Louisiana who are preparing for surgery may have a number of concerns regarding recovery time or post-operation pain. Unfortunately, some people worry about a medical mistake, and rightfully so. A surgical error or other mishap can result in serious repercussions.

As a recent study illustrates, medication errors occur at an alarming rate during operations. Fortunately, people in Louisiana do have legal recourse when medical malpractice takes place.

The research

A team from Massachusetts General Hospital sought to review the frequency of medication errors before, during and after surgery. Researchers analyzed 277 operations that took place at the facility between November 2013 and June 2014. They took into account every medication mistake and adverse reaction that occurred once the patient was under a provider's care until the patient went to recovery or intensive care unit.

One finding was that in 124 of the 277 incidents, there was either an adverse drug event or a drug error. That could include any of the following:

  • An incorrect dosage
  • A labeling error
  • Documentation mistake
  • Failing to treat a patient based on his or her vital signs

In approximately one-third of the 153 errors observed, there was an adverse drug event. Of those events, 69 percent were considered serious and 2 percent were considered life-threatening. Further, the study revealed that nearly 80 percent of these mistakes during surgery were preventable.

Moving forward

The lead author of the report stated that mistakes can occur because the operating room can be a high-speed area in which double- and triple-checking medications is not always feasible. The study did provide insight into the kinds of mistakes that occur, which will hopefully lead to preventative strategies. For example, using an electronic system could help to reduce human error and provide for easier documentation.

Following an error

Clearly, medical negligence can take a serious toll on patients, as evidenced by some of the findings in this study. There is some legal recourse a victim can take, such as filing a medical malpractice lawsuit. Louisiana law places a one-year statute of limitations on these claims. Therefore, the patient must file the suit within one year of the date of the incident. Because some medical mistakes may not manifest in immediate symptoms, the law does permit for patients to file the claim within one year of discovering the injury or worsened condition.

Medical facilities are tasked with taking care of their patients. When they fail to do so, they should be held accountable. Not only can this provide victims with the compensation necessary to recover, but it can also lead to improved practices that could prevent the mistake from happening again. Anyone who has questions about this issue should consult with a personal injury attorney in Louisiana.