A recent study found that not only are medication errors during surgery common, but they are also highly preventable.

Undergoing a surgical procedure in an Illinois hospital can be a stressful time for anyone. The fear that something could go wrong is often present, and for too many people, it becomes a reality.

A recent study focused on a specific type of mistake during operations: medication errors. The results are troubling.

Background

Researchers from Harvard focused on a Massachusetts-based hospital for the setting of the study. They evaluated 277 operations from a seven-month timeframe between 2013 and 2014 to determine if a medication mistake took place. Further, they analyzed whether or not these errors were preventable.

One of the study's authors told CBS News that this is the first instance of researchers looking at the time before, during and immediately after surgery to review the big picture of how medication errors come into play. The report, which was studied in the journal, Anesthesiology, took into account every drug administered during that time.

Results

One of the most alarming results from the study is that in more than 1 in 20 times a patient was given medicine, either an adverse drug event was observed or the wrong medication was administered. Of those, researchers noted the following:

  • 69 percent were considered serious
  • 30 percent were considered significant
  • 2 percent were considered life-threatening

Of the 277 procedures studied, 124 contained at least one adverse event or medication error. Even more shockingly, approximately 80 percent of those events could have been preventable.

Lastly, researchers found that certain operations were more likely to have a medication error. Mistakes were more common in procedures that involved 13 or more medications and those that took longer than six hours.

The Errors

A medication error can manifest in a number of ways. For the purpose of this study, researchers accumulated the most frequent mistakes made. Among the problems observed were incorrect dosages, failing to treat a patient for a problem evidenced by vital signs, and labeling mistakes. Additionally, medical staff committed a number of documentation errors.

When Negligence Happens

Medical negligence can severely harm a patient. In addition to leaving someone in pain and additional suffering, it can lead to higher medical bills, more time missed from work and increased emotional strain. Under Illinois law, someone filing a claim citing medical malpractice must do so within two years of the date the patient either discovered or should have discovered the injury. There is a four-year statute of repose, however, that dictates that no medical malpractice lawsuit may be brought four years after the date of the incident. The court does have the discretion to extend these deadlines when the victim is a minor.

People with questions about this topic should speak to a personal injury attorney in Illinois.