A female patient who was awake and awaiting surgery at Abbott Northwestern Hospital in Minneapolis was mistakenly given a medication that causes temporary paralysis, according to a report released today by investigators with the Minnesota Department of Health.
The patient told investigators she "felt she was unable to breathe" after she received the paralytic medication, which is intended to prevent patients from moving during surgery. Hospital staff told investigators the medication is meant to be given to patients only after they have been deeply sedated.
The patient, whose name has not been released, had been only lightly sedated. The woman did not suffer any injuries as a result of the mistake, according to the report. Staff at Abbott Northwestern decided to administer general anesthesia medication to the patient after they realized what had happened, the report said.
Investigators found the hospital failed to provide anesthesia services "in a safe, organized manner." The report does not provide the date of the incident, although it says investigators visited the hospital on Dec. 29 and Dec. 30, 2010.
Abbott Northwestern spokesperson David Kanihan said the hospital has apologized for the error. He noted that the patient was not harmed and investigators did not issue any citations, fines or other penalties. Kanihan declined to comment further, citing patient privacy requirements.
Investigators found the hospital immediately provided necessary care to the patient upon discovering the error, investigated the cause of the error, changed policies and procedures, educated facility staff, and reviewed the error. The hospital also conducted a review to "assure the new processes were being followed."
The report said the hospital violated the Conditions of Participation of Anesthesia Services, but had taken "adequate corrective action" by the time investigators arrived for a site visit. "Therefore," the report said, "no deficiencies are issued."