Risk of Errors In Medication Said to Rise With Surgery
Tuesday, March 6, 2007
Patients going under the knife face a significant risk of becoming the victim of a medical error involving medication, according to a report being released today.
The report, the largest examination of medication errors before, during and after surgery, found that operations are among the riskiest times for mistakes involving drugs.
The report was prepared by U.S. Pharmacopeia, a private group that sets standards for the drug industry. It has been gathering reports from hospitals nationwide about medication mistakes.
Its latest report is based on data voluntarily supplied by more than 400 hospitals about medication errors from 1998 to 2005 that occurred during outpatient surgery, in preparation for surgery, in the operating room and in recovery.
A total of 11,239 errors were reported, including giving the wrong drug or the wrong dose, or giving it at the wrong time.
Five percent of the mistakes caused harm, making surgery one of the most dangerous times for medication mistakes.
Mistakes during the operation itself were the most likely to result in harm.
In most cases the harm was temporary, but four deaths resulted from the errors. The mistakes were most dangerous to children, and the most common involved antibiotics and painkillers.
In addition to encouraging hospitals to take steps to reduce errors, the findings intend to alert patients and their families to be vigilant to protect themselves.
"We hope this will impact practice and make the whole system safe by bringing awareness to the topic," said Rodney Hicks, who helped prepare the report.