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How common are surgical errors in Massachusetts?

It is not uncommon to read or see reports on national television about defective medical devices or dangerous drugs. However, it is not as common to hear or read about surgical errors tied to anesthesia or other drugs administered during surgery. Unfortunately for Massachusetts residents, simply because something is not a common topic of conversation, it does not mean that it does not happen.

Recently, researchers observed more than 275 surgical procedures at Massachusetts General Hospital. After compiling the data from the research, they determined that approximately 50 percent of the surgeries involved errors related to medication. Fortunately for the patients in the observed surgeries ? and Maryland residents, in general, ? only three of the instances of errors threatened the lives of the patients, and no deaths resulted from any of the errors.

Regardless of the consequences of these particular surgical errors, the concern remains for patients and their families as they await upcoming surgeries. Fortunately, studies, such as the one carried out at Massachusetts General Hospital, help make hospitals and medical professionals more aware of the risks to which they expose their patients. This awareness then, hopefully, will result in more care being taken during the administration of medication before and during surgeries.

For the patients who suffered injuries or the families of patients who died during surgeries, the likelihood of future improvements in the rate of surgical errors in Massachusetts may be of little interest. Instead, it is likely that the interests of victims and their families lie in recovering from their injuries or losses. For those who have been impacted by surgical errors and financial hardships have been the result, help may be available in the form of an experienced medical malpractice attorney.

Source: The Boston Globe, "Drug errors are common in surgery, MGH-led study says," John Tozzi, Dec. 19, 2015

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