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Study looks at low reporting rate of medication errors among anesthesiologists

Medication errors are a common type of medical error observed in the health care industry. In many cases, medication errors are preventable. These errors can be traced back to physicians, of course, in the prescription of medications, but also to pharmacists who prepare and dispense the medication, nurses who administer the medication, and the health care administration responsible for supervising medication-related matters.

As we've noted before on this blog, health care providers are not always transparent when it comes to informing patients about medical errors. This is no different with medication errors. In fact, according to a recent study looking at medical error reporting error rates among anesthesiologists, medication errors may be significantly underreported by that section of the health care industry. 

According to the research, over a period of nine years, the incidence of self-reporting for medication errors was found to be 5.5 per 10,000 cases. The specific errors include things like prescribing the wrong medication and drug mix-ups or swaps. In terms of the types of medications, antibiotics and opioids were most commonly involved.

Interestingly, nearly 10 percent of medication errors cause at least temporary harm to the patient and can result in various adverse outcomes. According to the research, unplanned admission or escalation of care, unplanned intubation, and mechanical ventilation in post-anesthesia care unit are among the common outcomes in these cases. Failure to report medication errors could, of course, put patients at risk of harm beyond the medication error itself.

In our next post, we'll continue looking at this issue, and one of the common reasons anesthesiologists do not report their errors at a higher rate. 

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