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Medication errors might be underreported

New Jersey patients may be interested to learn that, according to a report, medication errors are being significantly underreported by anesthesia providers in certain health care institutions. It is estimated that approximately 10 percent of the errors that are not reported cause at least temporary if not permanent harm.

Researchers manually reviewed electronic health records. Out of more than 434,000 cases, only 238 self-reported medication errors were found. Researchers noted that this was a suspiciously small number of self-reported medication errors for the number of cases. When the self-reported errors were analyzed, it was discovered that half of them were from IV boluses. Judgment errors were also common, such as giving a patient cephalosporin when the patient had a known allergy to penicillin. No fatalities were found in the records.

Based on the results, researchers stated that there was room for improvement when it came to self-reporting medication errors. Part of the problem may be that professionals fear that they could be punished if they report an error, even if it does not cause harm. However, self-reporting systems are generally nonpunitive, meaning that self-reporting errors allows for constructive criticism and improvements in quality control.

While not all medication errors result in harm, giving patients a medication that they are allergic to or giving the wrong dose could result in a fatal medical error. If a family loses a loved one in such a manner, a medical malpractice attorney could assist with filing a lawsuit against the hospital where the error occurred and against the practitioner who made the mistake. In many cases, the attorney might reach an appropriate settlement through negotiations outside of court.