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Study: patient injury often a result of medication errors

Patients and their loved ones in Illinois and throughout the country are justifiably concerned when a medical procedure is underway. This holds true whether the procedure is major or minor. The actual surgery itself is only one aspect that can be worrisome. Other concerns involve the possibility that medical malpractice can occur. Studies are often undertaken to determine how and why these incidents happen. One in particular is raising fear as it found that medication mistakes happened in almost 50 percent of surgeries. It was also found that one-third of mistakes led to adverse drug events or ended with patients being harmed.

The study was based on 275 procedures in an east coast hospital. In those surgeries, there were 3,671 medications given. It found that medication errors happened in nearly one out of every two surgeries. Many of the errors were due to labeling errors, dosage mistakes, a doctor not treating an issue that was indicative in the vital signs of the patient, and errors in documentation. With procedures that took longer, there were more adverse drug events and medication mistakes - this was especially true in procedures that lasted for more than six hours when medication was administered 13 or more times.

Around 5 percent of patients were victimized by a medication error before, during or after the surgery. There were 153 medication mistakes and 91 adverse drug events that were found by the researchers through observation or by reviewing charts. Eighty percent of these medication errors were considered preventable. Thirty-three percent resulted in an adverse drug event and the rest had the potential for causing an adverse event. Sixty-four percent of the mistakes could have been serious; 33 percent were viewed as significant; fewer than 2 percent were thought to be life-threatening.

The hospital in question is considered one of the best in the nation making it likely that other hospitals have even more mistakes that occur regularly and can place patients in jeopardy. People who have suffered the loss of a loved one in surgery might not understand how common these errors are. Speaking to a legal professional about medication mistakes and surgical error can be an excellent idea for patients and their families.

Source: Forbes, "Disturbing New Study Finds Medication Errors In Half Of All Surgeries," Robert J. Szczerba, Oct. 27, 2015

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