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Medication Errors Can Occur During Surgery

Posted on January 20, 2016 by Kelly Wolford
male and female doctors performing surgeries

Most of us trust that our doctors, specialists, surgeons and other medical providers will provide the comfort and care we need when we are hurt or injured.

While nobody looks forward to going to the hospital or an outpatient facility to have a procedure done, we go with the attitude that it will improve our overall health and well-being and correct any problems that we may be experiencing.

Unfortunately, studies increasingly point to the fact that this faith is often misguided, as incidences of medical malpractice and surgical mistakes continue to occur at an alarming rate.

In particular, a recent Harvard University study found that medication errors are reported in one out of every two surgeries.

At Powers & Santola, LLP, our Albany medical malpractice lawyers know that surgical malpractice cases often involve serious, debilitating and even potentially life-threatening injuries.

If you or a loved one is scheduled to have a surgical procedure, it is important to know about the potential errors that could occur, as well as what you can do if you or someone you care about is injured.

A Closer Look at Harvard University Study

Before undergoing a surgical procedure, you will be required to fill out forms and answer questions about matters such as:

  • Pre-existing conditions
  • Prior treatments you have undergone
  • Medications you are currently taking
  • Allergies you suffer from.

The goal of these forms is to help prevent doctors, hospital staff and anesthesiologists from administering drugs during surgery that could have potentially dangerous interactions or cause serious allergic reactions that threaten not only the health but the very life of a patient.

Unfortunately, while these forms are vital in preparing for any treatment or surgery, they do not prevent medication errors from occurring.

The Harvard University study analyzed 277 operations performed at Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital, which prides itself on being a national leader in terms of patient safety.

Doctors involved in the study were shocked to discover that medication errors occurred in more than half of the procedures performed, and that roughly one-third of these errors resulted in an immediate adverse drug event.

What Harm Can Result from Medication Errors?

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), adverse drug events can cause reactions that vary from mild to severe and can even be life-threatening.

The NIH lists the most common effects of an adverse drug event as:

  • Allergic reactions, including rashes, swelling and difficulty breathing
  • Changes in mental state
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Excessive bleeding and blood loss
  • Hypertension and heart arrhythmias
  • Hypoglycemia
  • Respiratory failure
  • Renal failure.

If you have suffered the adverse effects of medication errors before, during, or after surgery or while hospitalized, contact our medical malpractice lawyers in Albany or Syracuse to see if you are eligible to file a medical malpractice lawsuit.

What Is Medical Malpractice?

Any type of surgical procedure carries potential risks. When you are in the hospital or in an outpatient facility, before having a procedure done, it is likely you will have a number of people speak with you about these risks. These people may include your doctor, an anesthesiologist and other members of the medical staff.

You will likely be asked to sign forms stating that you understand and acknowledge the risks associated with the procedure, anesthesia and medications you will be given. You will be asked to consent to the procedure despite those risks.

There are never any guarantees that a particular surgery or treatment will work. However, failing to get the desired benefits or a positive outcome from a surgical procedure is not the same as medical malpractice.

At Powers & Santola, LLP, our Albany medical malpractice lawyers can help you determine whether medical mistakes were made in your particular case and whether they entitle you to file a medical malpractice lawsuit.

Under New York law, in order to prove negligence in a medical malpractice case, you would need to show that your doctor or other medical care provider acted or failed to act in a way that was not in accordance with medical standards or was not what another doctor would have reasonably done in the same circumstances.

You would also need to show that you suffered an injury as a direct result of those actions or inactions. In cases of medical mistakes involving medications, your medical malpractice lawyer could potentially argue:

  • The medication you were given was not one that would commonly be prescribed under your particular circumstances; or
  • The medication was given in a dose that was not in keeping with medical standards.

How Can a Medical Malpractice Lawyer Help Me?

When you have been injured as the result of a surgical error or medical mistake, our experienced Albany medical malpractice lawyers can help you pursue the compensation you need to recover from your injuries.

At Powers & Santola, LLP, you will get the benefit of working with experienced lawyers who have been widely recognized for their excellence in the field of medical malpractice, including being listed in the “Best Lawyers in America.”

We can assist you in filing your medical malpractice lawsuit and advise you on pursuing damages awarded through the New York Court System, including:

  • Compensatory damages, including medical expenses and lost wages
  • Exemplary damages, including emotional distress, scarring and loss of enjoyment of life
  • Punitive damages, which are meant to punish the at-fault party.

If you or a loved one has been injured as the result of a medication error or other medical mistake, contact Powers & Santola, LLP, today.

Our experienced medical malpractice lawyers offer effective, professional legal representation. We can assist you in seeking the compensation you deserve for your injuries.

Reach out to us today for a free consultation. You can call or contact us online.

We can review the facts of your case and discuss the legal options that may be available to you. We can also explain the role we can play in your case.