Massachusetts – A new study on the frequency of medical error during surgery was presented on Sunday, concluding that mistakes were made during almost half of the operations they analyzed.
After noting that rigorous safety checks commonly seen in hospitals are usually loosened or bypassed in the surgical environment, a group of researchers from Harvard focused on running a study on operations performed at the Massachusetts General Hospital, to focus on how often medical errors occurred.
The extensive study was presented on Sunday at the Anesthesiology 2015 conference. It was run over seven months in 2013 and 2014 to quantify and address drug-error risk during surgery that included: mistakes as drug labeling, incorrect dosing, drug documentation mistakes, and failing to properly treat changes in a patient’s vital signs during surgery.
“This is the first large-scale look at medication errors in the time immediately before, during and directly after surgery […] But in my opinion, while there is much room for improvement, our results are not surprising,” said study author Dr. Karen Nanji, an assistant professor of anesthesia at Harvard Medical School in Boston to Philly.
Overall, a medication error or adverse drug event was documented in 124 of 277 surgeries. Of the 3,675 medication administrations (most patients receive more than one drug during surgery), 193 medication errors and adverse drug events were recorded and almost 80 percent of those events were determined to have been preventable. The study also stated that two-thirds of the drug errors were categorized as “serious,” while 2 percent were considered life-threatening (though none of the patients died as a result). The remaining errors were considered “significant.”
Meanwhile, Dr. David Katz, director of the Yale University Prevention Research Center in New Haven, Conn., said that “awareness of problems is where all solutions begin.”
Dr. Katz, as reported by Philly, considered that the numbers resulting from the study are disturbing, although he said they are not surprising. He recognized that working is hospitals allows doctors and other personnel in medical facilities to witness errors occuring.