BEACON TRANSCRIPT – No worry-warts will be comforted to know that something goes wrong with the drugs in one out of two surgeries, which may lead to adverse effects. This can range from more serious side effects, to medication errors that would cause unwanted consequences. It’s an issue that is mounting the pressure on medical professionals.
Researchers from the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) have observed a number of 277 surgical procedures, picked randomly over the course of 7 months. They recorded each mistake during the perioperative period, meaning right before, during, and after surgery.
Disturbingly, they found that errors occur in over half them.
While previous studies have shown that the rate of mistakes during surgical procedures ranged from none to few, the newest study suggests differently. A third of the patients were, in fact, reported as harmed due to mistakes regarding the medication or drugs administered. The most common errors were related to incorrect dosages, labeling, or overlooking certain vital signs of the patient.
The team of researchers found that 5% of all drug administrations arrive with some form of mistake. Among them, 1 in 20 cause adverse side effects which may lead the patient being harmed. Around 30% of the unfavorable consequences were considered to be ‘significant’, 69% of them were believed to be ‘serious’, and less than 2% were thought of as ‘life threatening’.
However, the problem was also more pronounced in longer procedures. By spending 6 or more hours in the operating room, the staff were more likely to commit multiple mistakes.
According to Dr. Karen Nanji, who was a lead researcher from MGH, the process of checking the drugs may take too much time to be possible during surgery. It’s checked by the pharmacist and nurse, but there is not sufficient time to double or triple check it. Under the pressure of surgery, there is even less.
While the adverse effects may have been felt though, fortunately, none of the have led to the death of a patient. However, while supervising anesthesiologists, nurse anesthetists or resident physicians, Nanji has stated that it’s “impossible to eliminate 100% of errors”. This due to the fact that the medical field is advancing, and getting new medication.
With each wave of new drugs, more opportunities for errors present themselves.
Furthermore, considering MGH boasts it’s attentive care toward patients, others might be facing graver issues than those reported. However, the researcher also calimed that they have gained an exceptional insight on what sort of mistakes are commonly made. From there, they can develop new systems to improve their practice, and secure the well being of patients.
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