Beebe and O'Neil

Anesthesia errors and proposed solutions

Patients in Connecticut who have an upcoming surgery should be aware of the potential dangers related to anesthesia. Due to the high-stress environment, there tends to be more errors in the operative setting, so meeting with the anesthesiologist beforehand can help reduce the chances of mistakes that can ultimately lead to serious consequences.

The Journal of the American Society of Anesthesiologists reports on a study of 277 operations involving medication administrations. The findings concluded that 1 in 20 included a medication error or adverse drug event. While none of the reactions resulted in death, the effects were serious with some being life-threatening. The most common error was found to be inappropriate medication doses, followed closely by failure to act/omitted medications, and almost 80% of the errors were found to be preventable. Some causes of these errors included incorrect labeling, documentation inaccuracies, wrong medication and wrong timing. 

The study helped determine strategies that should help reduce the number of errors in future anesthesiology situations. These solutions include:

  • Specific drug decision support
  • Bar-code assisted documentation systems
  • Adjusting the timing of documentation
  • Connecting infusions to most proximal IV port
  • Strong training and rigorous vendor selection

The American Society of Anesthesiologists also strongly encourages patients to meet with the physician anesthesiologist before the procedure. By discussing health habits, medical history and lifestyle, the physician will be better equipped to tailor the medications to specific needs. This helps reduce error by avoiding allergic reactions to medications. Patients who have had adverse reactions to anesthesia in the past should also share this with the anesthesiologist so he or she can make the necessary modifications.




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