Can an Anesthesia Error Lead to a Medical Malpractice Claim?

August 12, 2020

Undergoing surgery is always risky even if the operation is considered relatively minor. Patients are, therefore, naturally concerned about getting an operation. They may worry that the surgery won’t be successful or that the medical team will discover their condition is worse than previously thought. Also, we’ve all heard stories about surgeons operating on the wrong body part or leaving tools inside the patient. However, there’s another type of error that can be made: anesthesia errors.

You may not hear much about this but administering anesthesia is a risky part of surgery. The anesthesiologist needs to administer the correct dosage and monitor the effect it has on the patient. But first, they need to thoroughly review the patient’s history, the medication they’re on, and their allergies. They also need to know how long the operation is likely to last so they use the best combination of drugs.

Any procedure that requires anesthesia carries risks. Therefore, not every poor outcome is an indicator that someone in the operating room made a mistake. Sometimes the human body just doesn’t respond in the way doctors expect. However, there are cases in which a patient is harmed because the anesthesiologist or someone else on the team made a mistake. If a medical professional doesn’t provide the expected standard of care, they should be held to account. If you were harmed by an anesthesia error, you should reach out to a Georgia medical malpractice attorney.

Types of Anesthesia Errors

An anesthesiologist can make a mistake during the pre-op review or during the surgical operation. If they didn’t properly review your medical records, they may have given you a drug to which you were allergic. They could also have missed the fact that you were using medication that would interact negatively with a particular anesthetic. These types of errors can lead to serious injury or even death. An anesthesiologist may also be held responsible if they give a patient poor advice or neglect to follow-up and the individual suffers harm.

The most common anesthesia errors that lead to medical malpractice claims include:

  • Dosage errors
  • Delayed delivery
  • Failure to monitor patient
  • Prolonged sedation
  • Failure to notice and address complications
  • Failure to properly inform a patient about what will happen before, during, or after the procedure
  • Failure to intubate
  • Damaged equipment

Consequences of Anesthesia Errors

What happens because of an anesthesia error depends on the type of mistake that was made and how the team responds. Sometimes errors occur but doctors are able to address them before the patient is harmed. If this doesn’t happen, the patient may suffer asphyxia, spinal cord injuries, stroke, heart attack, brain damage, or damage to the trachea.

Another horrifying possibility is anesthesia awareness in which a patient doesn’t get enough anesthetic and they become conscious during the procedure. They may feel pain or be aware of their surroundings while being unable to speak. Such an experience can lead to anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, and problems sleeping.

The complications associated with anesthesia also depend on the type of anesthesia that’s administered. Local anesthesia is the safest. Only the area of the body that is being operated on is numbed. If the dosage is correct, you’re unlikely to experience any side effects. However, if the dosage is too large, it can affect blood pressure, breathing, heartbeat, and other functions. This is called system toxicity and it’s why emergency equipment should always be present when anesthetics are being used.

Regional anesthesia presents more risks. A larger part of the body is numbed. This type of anesthesia is administered via injection near the spinal cord, a nerve or group of nerves. If a nerve gets damaged, it can result in weakness, soreness, and loss of feeling. There’s also a risk of system toxicity, infection, and respiratory problems.

Meanwhile, general anesthesia carries the highest risk since you’ll be made unconscious. Most people experience only mild, temporary side effects like nausea and vomiting, chills, confusion, and a sore throat caused by the placement of a breathing tube. However, it’s also possible to develop breathing problems, malignant hyperthermia, and cognitive dysfunction. Serious injury, illness or death is rare except in cases of surgical errors.

Contact Joe Durham Jr. P.C. to Get Sound Legal Advice

If you have been harmed due to anesthesiology errors, you may be eligible for financial compensation. Contact the Georgia medical malpractice attorneys at Joe Durham Jr. P.C. to get expert advice on how you should proceed. Your first consultation is free and if you hire us, you never have to pay unless we secure damages.