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Medication Errors Drastically Under-reported by Anesthesiologists

Recent reports have indicated that many anesthesiology related medical errors are going unreported because physicians fear reprisal if they indicate that an error occurred. This is cause for concern because it obviously skews medical reporting data and may be hiding a much larger problem with medical negligence due to the failure of anesthesiologists to properly dose patients undergoing sedation based on factors such as their medical history, age and other factors. With data suggesting that as many as 98,000 people could be dying due to these errors, it is especially problematic that doctors are brushing their errors under the rug in order to avoid being held liable.

Self-Reporting of Medical Errors is Suspiciously Low

A study performed by the University of Michigan found that when physicians were left to report their own errors, there was an incredibly low incident rate compared to the number of reports made by patients alleging they suffered injury. Out of 434,554 cases, only 238 medication errors were reported by doctors, making the self-report incident rate only 5.5 per 10,000 cases. This also suggests that the problem is far more serious than previously suspected.

While self-reporting indicates only 5.5 errors in 10,000 cases, real world data shows that the actual rate of errors is somewhere between 1 in 100 and 1 in 400. This means that allowing doctors to self-report will undoubtedly skew the data drastically in favor of the physicians.

Some of the most common contributors to medication errors include allergic reactions, reactions to other medications, dosing errors and the method through which medications are administered. The University of Michigan study found that these errors definitely have an impact on patients, with almost 10% of medication errors resulting in what are considered temporary harm or worse.

Fear of Repercussions May Contribute to Underreporting

Since medication errors may cause harm to almost 10% of those receiving the wrong medicine or dosage, physicians may be more inclined not to report an error out of fear that they may be disciplined or held liable. When people are allowed to provide self-criticism that could have the potential for reprisals, they are more likely to fudge their reports in order to avoid punitive action from their employers.

In this case, however, the failure to provide accurate data is compromising the ability of healthcare providers to improve the quality of their care by reviewing errors to determine what went wrong and how to make sure similar accidents don’t occur in the future. Like any member of the human race; physicians make mistakes from time to time. The key to improving medical care rests in learning from these mistakes, however, and this cannot happen then incidents continue to go unreported at unprecedented levels.

Liability of Anesthesiology Providers

If your anesthesiologist is not reporting his or her errors truthfully, it could help make a case on your behalf for negligence if you have been injured because of a medication error. By failing to report the error, the anesthesiologist is indicating a fear that his or her actions may result in some sort of punishment— which is a sure sign that he or she did not act in an appropriate manner.

The majority of medication errors that result in severe injury or death have been found to be preventable, which is why healthcare providers and physicians should be held fully liable for their mistakes. 

Copyright © 2022, Rosenfeld Injury LawyersNational Law Review, Volume VII, Number 191
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About this Author

Jonathan Rosenfeld, Personal Injury Lawyer, Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers
Attorney

I’m an Illinois lawyer with a nationwide practice who represents members of our society who have been seriously injured or killed due to the irresponsible acts of an individual or company. The injured have the same rights as everyone else — to be treated with compassion and respect— but their vulnerability means they need special protection and representation against those who injure, neglect or abuse them. This is my life’s work.

I recognize that an injured person has one opportunity to get the compensation that the law allows. I am fully dedicated and mindful of this...

847-835-8895
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