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Medication Errors During Surgery: What Patients Can Do to Prevent Them

Medication Errors During Surgery: What Patients Can Do to Prevent Them

A study conducted in 2015 at Massachusetts General Hospital showed that medication errors occur in approximately half of all surgeries. Although the study is a few years old, the sad fact is that things are not that much different here in New York City today. Many people think medication errors during surgery are rare and something that only happens to other people. Clearly, these mistakes are all too common and people become injured every year.

It is common to assume that because these mistakes occur during surgery, there is nothing patients can do about them. Fortunately, that is not the case. There are ways to prevent a mistake from happening during surgery. When the below tips are not enough and you become injured, you may be able to file a medical malpractice claim. Our New York City medical malpractice lawyers can help you claim the full damages you deserve.

Common Types of Medication Errors During Surgery

According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), approximately 700 people die every year as a direct result of medication errors. These mistakes happen in a number of different ways, but there are some that are more common than others. These include:

  • Wrong medication used
  • Wrong dosage of medication used
  • Mislabeled medications
  • Allergic reactions to medications
  • Failure to warn patients of side effects
  • Mistakes made when dispensing medication
  • Incorrect administration of medication

Any time any of the above mistakes are made, or any other, and you suffer harm as a result, it is critical to speak to a New York City medical malpractice lawyer that can advise you of your legal options.

Preventing Medication Errors During Surgery

For most surgeries, patients are under anesthesia, meaning that they cannot communicate with the surgeon or others in the room, such as the anesthesiologist. Due to this, it is essential to speak with your doctor, surgeon, and anyone else who may be in the room, or who will be responsible for your care, before and after the operation. Knowing what to ask and what to speak about is important to reduce the risk of mistakes being made and to prevent injury. The best preventative tactics that can help you reduce the risk of harm are as follows:

  • Understand common mistakes: Simply knowing the most common medication errors is a great help when preventing mistakes. It is also important to understand that seniors are even more at risk for suffering harm due to a medication error because they often take multiple prescriptions. Many medication dosages are also based on weight, which can put children at risk of being hurt by a medication error.
  • Understand the drug: Before your surgery, always speak to your doctor about any medications that will be used. Ask what the drug does and why you need to take it so you are fully informed. If you are prescribed medication after the surgery, also ask for this information to be written on the prescription, which can help eliminate any confusion surrounding the name and purpose of the drug.
  • Ask for specific drug information: If you need to take medication before or after your surgery, you should ask for all necessary specific information. This may include how often you have to take it, if a certain amount of time must pass before you take another dose, and how the drug should be stored. You should also ask about any side effects you may experience, and whether there are certain foods or drinks you should avoid while taking the drug.
  • Make a list: Prior to your surgery, it is important to create a list of all medications you are currently taking. This should include all of your prescription medications, over the counter drugs, and herbal supplements. Give the list to the surgeon, your doctor, and anyone else who will be present for your surgery. This can help prevent a mistake from being made, such as a harmful interaction, simply because the surgeon was not aware of certain medications you are currently taking.

Although the above preventative tips can help prevent medication mistakes from occurring, they do not always work. When that is the case and you suffer harm as a result, you can file a claim against the negligent party to recover any damages you sustained.

Damages Available for a Medication Error

Medication errors have very serious consequences for those that suffer from them. A person’s health condition could become worse, or they may suffer from complications that require additional medical treatment. Longer hospital stays and even additional surgeries are not uncommon after a medication error has been made. Longer hospital stays prevent people from going back to work and add additional payments for the extra treatment they need. These and more are all potential losses in a medical malpractice claim, and you can recover financial compensation for them. The most common damages recovered after medication mistakes include:

  • Medical costs
  • Lost income
  • Loss of future earning capacity, if you cannot return to the same line of work
  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress
  • Loss of consortium, if you can no longer maintain an intimate relationship with your spouse
  • Loss of care and companionship, if the relationship with your children and loved ones is impacted

A New York City medical malpractice lawyer can review your claim and advise on the full damages you are entitled to depending on the circumstances of your case.

Call Our Medical Malpractice Lawyer in New York City Today

If you or someone you love has been hurt by a medication error during surgery, you need sound legal advice. At Silberstein, Awad & Miklos, P.C., our New York City medical malpractice lawyer can provide it. Our dedicated attorneys can advise on whether an error was made due to negligence and if so, hold the healthcare professional and the insurance company accountable for paying the full and fair settlement you deserve. Call us today at 1-877-ASK4SAM or contact us online to schedule a free consultation and to learn more about how we can help.