Study addresses easily avoidable medication errors

Two new studies have found a prevalence of errors occurring where medicines or anesthesia is given before or during surgical procedures. Many of such medication errors have led to fatalities.

The study came about due to a physician trying to discover what drugs were given instead of the local anesthetics that were prescribed. Patients in the study had suffered cardiomyopathy while undergoing a Caesarian delivery, many underwent convulsions, and others suffered neurological disorders because the wrong medication was administered. In some child delivery cases, harm came both to the mothers and infants, and such errors were often fatal.

The study found that errors often came about due unlabeled or incorrectly labeled ampoules and syringes. Sometimes poor lighting led to the incorrect medications being administered. There also was often confusion over infusion bags and catheters that were mistaken for IV lines.

It was pointed out that almost all such errors were preventable. Poor education, fatigue, and shortages of supplies were listed as possible areas that needed to be addressed, and improved labeling and color coding could also decrease the number of errors.

“These events occur because clinicians don’t take the time to check the syringe or think about what they are doing,” a Pennsylvania doctor was quoted as saying. “Following safe protocols – labeling syringes and checking them before the drugs are injected or infusions are started – will prevent such events.”

We’ve said many times that medical malpractice often comes about due to not putting in place safety procedures or miscommunications. Attorneys will hold medical providers liable for such errors since correction of such problems can be easily and inexpensively remedied. This is especially significant since, as shown above, the consequences of such errors can be so traumatic.

Source: Anesthesiology News, “Review of Avoidable Regional Errors Exposes Shocking Lapses,” by Tinker Ready, Sep. 28, 2012