Prefilled syringes could save both money and lives

Hospitals in Arizona and around the country may be able to lower their costs and reduce the number of catastrophic medical errors by using prefilled syringes according to a study funded by a medical equipment manufacturer. When nurses switched to prefilled syringes, medication error rates dropped into the single digits. Taking a syringe-and-vial approach resulted in a 75 percent error rate. Saving time can sometimes save lives in busy operating rooms, and the study revealed that prefilled syringes reduced preparation times by more than 50 percent.

Anesthesiologists at the Mount Sinai Health System’s Icahn School of Medicine switched to prefilled syringes for some surgical procedures to improve patient outcomes and reduce costs. Unlike most other doctors, anesthesiologists generally fill the prescriptions they write and administer the drugs themselves, but anesthetic drug waste has still cost the leading New York hospital more than $180,000 according to a 2016 study.

A syringe prefilled with powerful drugs could pose a serious danger to patients, but the makers of these devices use a number of safety measures including bar codes to prevent accidents and make mistakes less likely. Prefilled syringes could be especially useful in operating rooms as medication errors, which are usually preventable, occur in about 5.3 percent of surgical procedures according to research published in the medical journal Anesthesiology.

Hospital patients who are given the wrong drugs or too much or too little of the correct drug often suffer serious consequences, and personal injury attorneys with experience in hospital negligence cases may pursue civil remedies on their behalf. However, doctors are usually extremely reluctant to admit that mistakes were made and are often supported by their peers, and attorneys may call on medical experts of their own to assess the quality of the care provided and point out how it failed to meet accepted standards.