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Southern New Jersey residents may be shocked to learn that research conducted at several hospitals has discovered that errors occur more often than not when medications are delivered intravenously. The researchers arrived at their conclusions after scrutinizing 1,164 intravenous administrations of medicine in 10 hospitals. The research was published in the medical journal BMJ Quality and Safety on Feb. 23.
Medical safety experts have long believed that encouraging the development of technology like smart pumps is the best way to reduce IV medication mistakes, but the latest research indicates that better training and stricter enforcement of policies and procedures could actually achieve more. The researchers concluded that most errors of this type occur when hospital staff take shortcuts or otherwise deviate from hospital policy.
While medication errors occurring more than 50 percent of the time may be a cause for concern, the researchers pointed out that smart pumps and other forms of new technology have had at least some impact. These systems, which boast safety features that prevent too much or too little medicine being administered, are used in 77 percent of American hospitals, but they do little to prevent common mistakes such as labeling and tubing change errors. Most mistakes of this type present little real danger to patients, but the researchers found that even advanced technology failed to prevent serious mistakes such as omitting medicine that is needed or administering the wrong drugs.
Medical errors do not always rise to the level of medical malpractice, and sometimes no harm results from a mistake. However, if a patient’s condition worsens due to an incorrect amount of a drug being administered, then the assistance of an attorney in seeking compensation may be warranted.