Safety program succeeds at limiting anesthesia errors

Medication mistakes can have dire consequences for patients and result in medical malpractice judgments against physicians and hospitals. However, a clinical program designed to reduce the risk of medication and anesthesia errors may mean good news for both medical administrators and hospitalized patients in Arizona. A study presented at the Postgraduate Assembly on Anesthesiology used a retrospective look at medication errors before and after the implementation of the program for perioperative systems improvement.

The period of examination stretched 8.5 years, from 2008 to 2016. Researchers found 105 instances of medication errors and noted a downward trend in errors occurring after the hospital started the safety program. The most common categories for this type of doctor error were dosage mistakes and incorrect medication.

The program involved a panel of clinicians and case reviews by anesthesiologists that included interviews with the people involved in each case. The clinicians received the information and offered improvements to protect against recurrence of similar mistakes. Along with the downward trend, the department director noted that all the errors in later years were confined to hospital residents. Widespread implementation of such programs could save hospitals money on medical malpractice settlements and protect patients from the damage caused by medical professional negligence.

The reality is that hospitals in Glendale and the rest of Arizona are not legally obliged to implement this or any other specific program of safety. They do, however, have an obligation to provide the reasonable standard of care and protect patients from doctor error, such as misdiagnosis, wrong-site surgery and anesthesia errors. When mistakes are made, patients may face a deteriorated medical condition, increased medical expenses and other damages. With help from an attorney, those who suspect medical malpractice may be able to gain compensation for damages.