How common are surgery-related medication mistakes?

Surgical procedures generally involve a great many things. This includes medications. It is fairly typical for multiple medication administrations to be made to a surgical patient during the course of a surgery.

As with any type of medication administration, it is important for hospitals and medical professionals to avoid making mistakes when it comes to surgery-related medication administrations. Medication errors during surgeries have the potential to greatly harm patients. One would hope surgery-related medication errors would be a rarity. Unfortunately, a recent study indicates that this may not be the case at all.

The study looked at 277 surgeries that were performed at a hospital in Massachusetts in 2013 and 2014. During these surgeries, 3,675 medication administrations were made.

How many of these surgery-related medication administrations ended up involving medication errors or adverse medication events? The study found the answer to be around 5 percent. Specifically, 193 recorded drug errors and adverse medication events occurred during these medication administrations. Of these errors/adverse events, nearly 80 percent were deemed to be preventable and around two-thirds were deemed to be “serious” in nature.

These errors/adverse events were pretty spread out among the different surgeries; at least one such error/adverse event occurred in 124 of the surgeries. So, only a little over half of the surgeries the study looked at were medication-error-free.

According to one of the study’s researchers, these results might actually even underestimate the prevalence of surgery-related medication errors generally, as the hospital where the surgeries the study looked at occurred is considered to be a national leader when it comes to patient safety.

Do you think medication errors are fairly common in surgical procedures here in Louisiana? Are there any things in particular about the surgical environment that you think can make medication mistakes particularly likely? What do you think can be done to reduce the likelihood of surgery-related medication errors at hospitals here in Louisiana?

Individuals subjected to errors, such as medication mistakes, during a surgical procedure may be able to pursue medical malpractice litigation.