It appears that fear of punitive action may be causing anesthesia providers at some hospitals to underreport errors. A team of researchers used data from the Multicenter Perioperative Outcomes Group as well as institutional quality assurance data to determine that the rate of error reporting from anesthesia providers appears to be much lower than the rate in other studies.
Of the 238 self-reported medication errors that were reported, which covers data from July 2006 to November 2015, researchers found that the most common types of mistakes were judgment errors. The next most common type of error involved giving patients the wrong drug. Of the errors reported, just shy of 10 percent resulted in at least temporary harm to the patient.
As a result of mistakes made, some of the consequences for patients included the need for mechanical ventilation, escalation of care and unplanned intubation. However, the reported errors did not result in any patient deaths. The low rate of reporting is a major cause for concern according to one of the researchers. One likely reason for the low rate of self-reported errors is that people fear that action will be taken against them. However, lack of information makes it more difficult to figure out how to reduce errors.
An anesthesia error can have severe, and sometimes life-threatening, consequences for patients. Too little can result in someone waking up during a procedure, and too much can cause a variety of side effects and put someone’s life in danger in extreme cases. When patients have been harmed due to an anesthesia error, a lawyer could help them determine what happened and what their legal options are.