Medication Errors During Surgery All Too Common

Back to Articles

Posted by Pressley Henningsen

Image of a woman in a nursing home receiving her medication

Have you or a loved one been injured because of a medication errors during surgery?  You’re not alone.  New research into medication errors shows that nearly half of all surgeries at a major U.S. hospital involve some kind of medication error, according to the Washington Post.

According to the study, researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital found that medical errors and medication-related incidents that harmed a patient were occurring for nearly 50% of surgeries performed.

These medication errors injured patients, some severely, a third of the time.  The medications that were associated most commonly with an error include propofol, a sedative, and fentanyl, a pain medication.  These are serious medications that can have devastating consequences if administered incorrectly.

Unfortunately Iowa Hospitals Likely Also Have Medication Errors

It’s likely that this study reflects what happens at other U.S. hospitals, including hospitals in Iowa.  The University of Iowa’s Hospitals and Clinics in Iowa City and Mercy Medical Center and St. Luke’s Hospital in Cedar Rapids likely struggle with the same statistics.  Smaller hospitals in your area may have even higher levels of error because of the lack of knowledgeable staff.

Most drug-related errors that occur happen because of human error.  These include:

  • Someone forgot to give the medication
  • Someone gave too much or not enough of the medication
  • Someone gave the wrong medication or administered it in the wrong manner

In the operating room, there is often a time crunch to make sure the patient is receiving the basic life sustaining care he or she needs.  If there is too much of a rush to get the medication into the patient’s system, the nurses may not take the time to double-check that the correct medication is administered, and in the correct dosage.  This is simply a mistake that patients cannot accept.

An “Honest” Mistake?  It Doesn’t Matter!

The medication error may be a so-called “honest” mistake made by a doctor or a nurse.  After all, doctors are human, and an operating room can be a stressful environment.  However, it is up to them to keep you safe during your operation, and making a medication error can have lasting consequences.  They must follow the policies and meet the standards, or all patients are at risk – a risk that can and should be avoided.

Given the above report, it’s clearly too common to see this type of error happen in medical malpractice cases.  Hopefully, the error is caught before too much damage can be done.  A patient may be temporarily disabled or otherwise injured, but recover without any lasting issues.  Those situations almost never become Iowa medical malpractice lawsuits.

Unfortunately, many people can be gravely injured or even killed because of the malpractice of a preventable medication error.  If you or your loved one has suffered because of a medication error, call us immediately at 1-319-519-4193.

Looking for Iowa Legal Help?

Find out how to get treated fairly after an injury or disability in Iowa

For a free, no-obligation case evaluation, call us at (319) 409-6575
or fill out our Free Case Evaluation form to reach us online