Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) is considered one of the top hospitals in the nation. Researchers discovered about half of the surgeries performed at this institution have administered medications by error or with unintended side effects. These findings are even more likely to be found at other U.S. hospitals. In 2013-2014 researchers at MGH observed and discovered that 124 of the 227 procedures included at least one medication error or drug-related incident that harmed the patient. According to this study, the most frequent errors were due to mislabeling, incorrect dosages, and medications unnecessarily administered.
The study findings were published in Anesthesiology, and presented to the American Association of Anesthesiologists. Lead author Karen C. Nanji stated “There was not a lot of surprise because everybody knew the self-reported error rates were too low. We just didn’t know what the true rates were.”
Additional studies show statistics of medicinal errors in the operation room are 1 to 20. Most typical errors are usually unknown allergic reactions and incorrectly labeled syringes, the latter being fairly common. Other attributing factors are the fast pace inside operating rooms and not recognizing medications by sight. Since self-reporting errors are low, the true numbers are in reality more severe. Some of the most common medications tied with these errors are propofol, a common sedative, fentanyl, a powerful pain medication, and phenylephrine, used to increase blood pressure. To help remedy these harmful errors, some hospitals use a bar code system with their medicines, and error reports were proven to be much higher when it was not being used.