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New Study of Hospital Surgeries Shows an Alarming Number of ‘Medical Errors’

October 28, 2015

Here’s a quick question that very few people have the answer to. How often do medical errors occur at hospitals before, during, or after surgery?

It’s an answer that’s likely to take you awhile to find, and when you do it’s likely that the answer will be grossly understated because most medical errors are self-reported by nurses, doctors, and anesthesiologists – and of course, who likes to report their own errors?

Well the question of how often do medical errors occur has finally received an unbiased answer.

The Anesthesiology 2015 annual convention in San Diego has brought to light a ‘First of its kind’ study of more than 275 operations at Massachusetts General Hospital. The study results due to appear in the “Anesthesiology” publication, point out an alarming number of medical errors in the operations included in the study.

According to the findings, out of the 275 operations reviewed, it was found that there was at least 1 medical error in 124 of them (nearly 50% of the operations). That’s a very alarming number of operations with a medical error.

So the next question is – What constitutes a ‘medical error’? According to the report, medical “errors” were defined as any kind of mistake in the process of ordering or administering a drug or an adverse drug event, which includes harm or injury to a patient related to a drug, whether or not it was caused by an error.”

To put that into perspective, during the 275 operations observed, there were 3,675 medical administrations for which there was an opportunity to have a medical error. According to the study, an error occurred in 1 out 20 of those opportunities.

The most frequent were mistakes in labeling, incorrect dosage, neglecting to treat a problem indicated by the patient’s vital signs.

Of all the observed adverse drug events and medication errors that could have resulted in patient harm — 4 were intercepted by operating room staff. Fully, 30 percent were considered significant, 69 percent serious, and less than 2 percent life-threatening; none were fatal.

“The results of this study are concerning,” says Vincent D. Howard of Howard Law, PC. “To see that almost 50% of the operations studied had a medical error means that hospitals need to have accountability.”

While the study does show an alarming number of medical errors, Massachusetts General Hospital is being given credit for allowing the study to occur and allowing the outside world to receive solid statistical information.

Remember, if you are the victim of any improper medical treatment, surgery related or not, you do have legal rights. To find out what rights you may have, contact the offices of Howard Law, PC by phone or by email. Visit us at