Beebe and O'Neil

How likely am I to experience an anesthesia mistake?

Mistakes in anesthesiology are a little more common than Connecticut patients such as yourself may think. But what are the statistics of these mistakes, and how probable is it that you might experience one?

Anesthesia error is an umbrella term for any medical mistake involving anesthesia. This means you could suffer from an anesthesia error if you are given too much medication, not given enough, or if you are supplied with the wrong medication. In a study breakdown of 233 errors in 27454 anesthesia procedures, it was found that 22 percent were omission errors, 25 percent were overdose errors, and 23 percent were substitution errors.

As stated by the National Institutes of Health, those are the primary areas of mistake, and several reports collected from around the world back that up. For example, a New Zealand study showed that 89 percent of all anesthesiologists questioned have made drug administration errors before. Australian studies have shown that 144 cases out of 2000 have also suffered from anesthesia error of some sort. Additionally, a Canadian survey showed that 30 percent of 2266 anesthesiologists committed more than one drug error over their careers. Norwegian studies have shown that .11 percent of 55426 cases involved issues with anesthesia, and that three of those cases were “serious”.

However, these studies should be read with the knowledge that not all medical professionals report their errors. Because of that, some of the data may be skewed. This makes it important for you to keep your eyes open for potential mistakes.


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