New data reveals that drug-related errors occur in 50 percent of all surgical procedures. These preventable errors are causing patients undue harm while under the knife.

In a study published in Anesthesiology’s October 2015 edition, researchers state that in nearly half of observed procedures at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), drug-related errors took place. This Harvard-affiliated medical facility is nationally regarded as a leader in patient safety, making the study’s findings even more alarming. With so many errors happening during procedures at an elite facility, medication error rates are likely to be higher at other U.S. hospitals.

Lead study author and MGH anesthesiologist Karen C. Nanji claims these findings were not surprising, as self-reported error rate statistics were known to be too low.

Medications Commonly Associated with Errors

An average of 10 medications were administered during the surgical procedures observed. The study showed certain medications were frequently connected with drug-related errors during surgeries. These medications include:

  • Propofol, a sedative
  • Fentanyl, a pain medication
  • Phenylephrine, a medication used to increase blood pressure

Medication errors during operations include dosage mistakes, mislabeling, documentation errors, and not treating medical issues signaled by changes in vital signs. Researchers point out that due to the nature of events taking place in the operating room, there isn’t always opportunity for multiple medication checks, which are performed to prevent drug-related errors in other hospital environments.  But just because you are in surgery does not excuse these errors.

Reducing Errors

Nanji says the new data will allow physicians and medical facilities to target medication errors and impose preventative measures. For example, medications could be documented electronically prior to administering them, allowing the system to review for potential drug interactions, allergies, or dosage discrepancies.

Did you receive the wrong medication or the wrong dosage during an operation, leading to an injury? Contact the medical malpractice lawyers at Goldberg Finnegan today to schedule a free case evaluation.