A New York City hospital has found that using prefilled syringes instead of vials for surgery may be both cheaper and safer. Anesthesiologists at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in Manhattan have begun using the prefilled syringes for some procedures. This is a time when mistakes may be more likely to happen because there are no checks on the anesthesiologist who is responsible for prescribing, preparing and administering the drug.
The operating room is also a fast-paced environment, and this could contribute to mistakes as well. According to one study that looked at 277 operations, there were largely preventable medication errors in just over 5 percent of the cases. When the medication is instead withdrawn and labeled in advance and waiting in the syringe, errors may be less likely. According to one doctor at Mount Sinai, there has not yet been a formal cost analysis done regarding the change to syringes. While prefilled syringes are costlier than vials, there still may be less waste and thus lower costs overall.
Another study showed significantly lower error rates with the prefilled syringe. Using the syringes is also more efficient, and this can be critical in the fast-paced environment of the operating room. Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston has been using the prefilled syringes for two years and reports lower costs and a reduced workload.
In some cases, medication errors can have serious consequences. Such errors might occur because of an error in recordkeeping, poor communication during a shift change or a mixup of patients among other reasons. The result could be devastating if a patient is allergic to the medication, it interferes with their course of treatment or the dose is too large. If a medication error due to negligence causes harm, the patient may want to consider meeting with an attorney to see what options might be available.