Medication errors occur all too often in operation rooms throughout Chicago, putting patients at risk for worsened conditions or death. Whether going in for routine, elective, or emergent procedures, patients entrust medical professionals with their health and their lives when they undergo surgeries. Taking a few precautions may help health care providers to avoid this type of medical malpractice.
What Are Perioperative Medication Mistakes?
Perioperative medication mistakes include errors involving the administration of medications just before, during, or immediately following surgical procedures. Some of the most common medication errors occurring in OR rooms include giving patients the wrong dosage, administering medications incorrectly, giving an extra medication dose, missing a medication dose, or giving patients the wrong medication. Administering medications to which patients have known allergies and incorrectly programming infusion pumps may also fall into the medical malpractice category of medication errors.
What Causes Medication Errors in the Operating Room?
Medication errors may happen due to any number of factors, some of which may involve medical negligence or carelessness. In a study conducted by Massachusetts General Hospital researchers, health care providers could have prevented nearly 80% of medication mistakes recorded for the study. These types of errors may occur because medical providers get distracted while administering medications, prepare medications for more than one patient at once, or fail to check the medication and dosage before administering it. Medication mistakes may also happen due to the incorrect labeling of medications, storage of similar-looking medications near each other in the medication tray, or other such factors.
How Can OR Medication Mistakes Be Prevented?
Following certain procedures and recommendations in the operating room may help medical providers avoid medication errors that may cause worsened or additional medical conditions, or death for patients. Among these steps may include standardizing the units and formats used for ordering intravenous medication infusions and the infusion concentrations for various medications and making the pharmacy responsible for preparing intravenous medications instead of leaving this task to medical providers in the operating room. Using technology such as computerized order entries for medications used in the operating room, bar codes to identify medications, and smart pumps may also help reduce the occurrence of perioperative medication errors. In addition to these steps, creating a culture that embraces and focuses on medication safety may benefit patients.