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Medication Errors Occur in One out of Two Surgeries, Medical Researchers Say

Posted on in Medical Malpractice

medication errors, Chicago personal injury attorneysSurgical intervention—be it lifesaving or elective—is a dangerous business. Unexpected emergencies, postoperative infection, and delayed healing are just a few of the possibilities that are commonly discussed with patients. However, there is one risk that is not largely discussed, despite the fact that it may be one of the most commonly experienced: medication errors.

The Real Risk of Perioperative Care

Because medication mistakes during perioperative care (immediately before, during, and immediately after a procedure) are mostly self-reported, experts have long suspected that the numbers are much higher than those on record. A research group from Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) has now proven it with an analysis of 277 randomly selected operative procedures.

The Harvard-affiliated hospital is said to be a national leader in patient safety, with well-researched methods for improving surgical outcomes. Yet, even in this setting, the study team found that one out of two surgeries involved either a medication error or an adverse drug event (which includes harm or injury to a patient from a drug, even if it was not caused by an error). Eighty percent of those events were determined preventable.

Errors were made by any and every member of the staff, including anesthesiologists, nurses, and resident surgeons. And, according to the research team, the frequency of errors increased exponentially for surgeries that lasted longer than six hours, or when 13 or more medications were needed throughout the surgical process.

Room for Improvement? We Think So

The study authors shared that there was much room for improvement within the administration of medication during the perioperative process. Of course, we agree, and we expect changes will be made now that hospitals and surgeons have better insight as to what is going on in and out of the surgical room. But what of the patients that have already suffered because of a medication error? What of their loved ones that may have been left behind?

At Hurley, McKenna & Mertz, we believe that victims of medical mistakes deserve compensation and fair representation. In fact, we have spent more than 20 years increasing awareness and fighting for the rights of our clients. Schedule a free consultation and discover how our Chicago medical malpractice lawyers can help you or your loved one in your case by calling 312-553-4900 today.


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