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Medication errors during surgery more common than you think

It's not a secret that mistakes happen during surgeries. There are plenty of records to show patients who have suffered due to negligence or mistakes that were made. How common are these mistakes, though? It's been claimed that around half of all surgeries involve at least some kind of medication error or results in unintended side effects from drugs a patient has to use. If you suffer from an error, then you're in a position to seek compensation for negligence, but just how much should you worry?

After observing 277 procedures at the Massachusetts General Hospital, the potential for medications causing harm to patients was abundantly clear. In over one-third of the reported errors, the patient suffered some kind of injury.

Medication errors have been an issue for many years, and as far back as 1999, hospitals and the medical community have been focusing on reducing them. In 1999, the Institute of Medicine identified medication errors as a leading cause of death for patients in America, with around 44,000 or more people being killed by them. That number was more in total that the number of people who died from breast cancer or automobile accidents.

Why are there so many errors taking place when safeguards should be preventing them? The fact is that drugs given during surgery aren't put through the safe safeguards as those given at other times. Usually, the medication would be checked by pharmacists and the physician or nurses, but in an operation, that may not happen. Because patient' conditions vary rapidly, drugs may have to be given on short notice.

Source: Bloomberg Business, "Hospitals Mess Up Medications in Surgery--a Lot," John Tozzi, Oct. 25, 2015

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