Study finds anesthesiologists underreporting medication errors

A recent study suggests that anesthesiologists may be greatly underreporting medication errors.

A recent study by researchers at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor suggests that anesthesiologists are underreporting many instances of medication errors. According to Anesthesiology News, the study found that anesthesiologists were self-reporting only 5.5 medication errors for every 10,000 cases, a figure that is unrealistically low and likely well below the actual rate of medication errors involving anesthesiologists. Previous studies have found that medication errors, including anesthesia errors, are particularly high during surgeries.

Medication errors underreported

The University of Michigan study looked at data from a variety of sources covering the period between July 2006 and November 2015. The researchers looked at a total of 434,554 cases and out of those found only 238 instances of self-reported medication errors. That translates to a self-reported error rate of 5.5 per 10,000 cases. That figure is extremely low and it suggests that many anesthesiologists are simply not reporting errors. Other studies suggest the actual medication error rate involving anesthesiologists is closer to between one in 100 to one in 400.

The study also shed light on the types of medication errors that are occurring. Judgment errors, such as giving a patient a drug they are allergic to, is the most common type of anesthesiologist error. Administering the wrong drug was the second most common type of error. The drugs most commonly involved in medication errors were antibiotics and opioids. Of errors that were reported, close to 10 percent caused at least temporary harm to the patient.

Errors in the operating room

The study highlights an important side of medication errors during surgery. Previous studies have shown that medication errors in the operating room are worryingly common. As CBS News reports, one study concluded that about half of all surgeries include at least one medication error.

That study, in fact, is believed to have underestimated how common medication errors during surgery actually are. The study looked solely at medication errors during surgeries at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, a facility that already has a reputation for high patient-safety standards. That suggests that medication errors in the OR at other hospitals may be much more common.

Medical malpractice law

When somebody is admitted to the hospital, whether it is for a surgery or other procedure, they expect to get the best care and treatment possible. Yet mistakes can happen and in a hospital those errors can be a matter of life and death. Anybody who has been hurt by a possible error by a medical professional should contact a medical malpractice attorney as soon as possible. Medical malpractice cases are extremely complicated and an attorney who knows how to read medical records, deal with hospital authorities, and build a strong case will be in the best position to help clients pursue whatever compensation they may be entitled to.

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