In the News: Medication Errors in 50% of Surgeries

Monday, January 9, 2017

A recent study by Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston discovered that medication errors or adverse drug events had occurred during around half of surgeries occurring over 7 months from 2013-2014.

According to a CBS News article, the medication administration errors during surgery reported in the study included:

  • Drug labeling errors
  • Incorrect dosing
  • Drug documentation mistakes
  • Failing to properly respond to changes in a patient’s vital signs

The study looked patient care from pre-op through the completion of surgery (when a patient is transferred to either a recovery room or intensive care). The authors analyzed hospital records of reported drug administrations and drug errors, as well as other errors that had not been specifically recorded as such but could be discerned from patient medical records.

The analysis showed:

  • 227 surgeries in 7 months included 3,675 medication administrations.
  • In 124 of those surgeries (54%), a medication error or ADE was reported.
  • There were 193 total medication errors reported, nearly 80% of which were deemed preventable.

“These numbers are disturbing, but not surprising,” Dr. David Katz of the Yale University Prevention Research Center told CBS News. “What all this means is that human behavior cannot be the only safeguard against error. Rather, we need a multi-layered defense, involving careful humans backing one another up, and automatic systems backing up the humans.”

Read more about the study and reaction to its findings.

Want to learn more about related topics? Check out these RxPerts Academy features on medication errors:

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