A new study of more than 275 operations at Massachusetts General Hospital, Journal Anesthesiology 2015) showed:


* Some mistake or adverse event occurred in EVERY 2nd operation.

* And in 5% of observed drug administrations.

* 1/3rd of the errors resulted in adverse drug events or HARM to patients.


The authors of the study said, “While the frequency of errors and adverse events is much higher than has previously been reported in peri-operative settings, it is actually in line with rates found in inpatient wards and outpatient clinics, where error rates have been systematically measured for many years.”


What does this mean for us?

Medicine is human.

We have tended to think of it as a magical cult of the “All knowing”.

Medicine commonly puts down other disciplines as being dangerous and unscientific, when all health care run by humans has high error rates.


It is human to make mistakes.

More than you would think.

But that is what consistent studies show.

ER decisions are found “correct” about 50% of the time. And this has been reported in numerous studies.

What to do?

Have a patient advocate. Ask questions. Don’t be dissed by the professionals getting edgy when you ask questions. Be in on the details as much as you can. Have your regular doc look-see into things other specialists recommend.


It’s a lot of work.

But that is what staying well is all about.

It is not an entitled gift that falls from the sky.

We earn it. Even in the midst of the temple of medicine.

And PS, why should doctors be held to being right 100% of the time when that is not humanly possible?


Karen C. Nanji, Amit Patel, Sofia Shaikh, Diane L. Seger, David W. Bates. Evaluation of Perioperative Medication Errors and Adverse Drug Events. Anesthesiology, 2015; 1 DOI: 10.1097/ALN.0000000000000904