What Happens when Anesthesia Errors are Caused by Medical Negligence?
Surgery is such an important tool in maintaining health and longevity, so it’s heartbreaking when it goes wrong for you or a loved one. Unfortunately, though, undergoing an operation has its dangers, one of which is medical negligence.
As is true for any part of a surgical procedure, anesthesia has its risks – especially when negligence is to blame. This life-saving technology has existed for almost 200 years, and in that time, we have developed it extensively. Today, it is usually a safe part of the surgery – but not always, and when anesthesia goes wrong, it can go very wrong.
If you believe you have suffered at the hands of a medical professional or facility that should have protected you, you may be eligible for a medical malpractice suit. It’s important to reach out to our Kansas City medical malpractice lawyers or call us at (816) 251-1001 for a free consultation and learn about your options.
Types of Anesthesia
Anesthesiologists, certified nurses, and registered nurse anesthetists are all trained to administer anesthesia, and they must watch their patients closely – they must monitor blood pressure, breathing, and pulse throughout surgery. However, negligence on the part of the anesthesiologist could cause long-term or permanent damage or death.
When you need medical care that will cause pain, like a surgical procedure, you will likely receive one of three types of anesthesia, depending on the surgery.
When you need minor surgery, such as a skin biopsy, stitches, or repairing a broken bone, doctors often use local anesthesia. You remain awake. This one-time injection numbs only the part of the body the doctors are working on. If the anesthesiologist uses the proper does, local anesthesia has few, if any, side effects. Doctors generally consider it safe. However, too much could result in system toxicity and can significantly impact blood pressure, breathing, your heart, and other body systems.
An anesthesiologist may administer regional anesthesia if surgery affects a larger area or because of painful nerves or nerve damage. They will administer it near one or more nerves or the spinal cord. Giving too much could result in system toxicity. Regional anesthesia errors could cause infection and pulmonary issues.
When you need major surgery, anesthesiologists usually administer general anesthesia. This is the most dangerous of the three types of anesthesia because it slows the body’s throat function. It is easy to aspirate – choke on liquid stuck in the respiratory tract. Thus, doctors usually insert an endotracheal tube to help with muscle spasms and aspiration. General anesthesia must be administered carefully and monitored closely, as it can cause tachycardia and hypertension. After-effects may include a sore throat, damage to your voice box or mouth, and hoarseness.
General anesthesia could also result in more serious side effects, such as a stroke or heart attack. However, severe injury, illness, and death are rare. If you become severely injured, ill, or die because of general anesthesia, it is more likely because of an anesthesia error.
Anesthesia Negligence: What are the Risks?
While using anesthesia does pose some risks, doctors have been using it for many years – it’s not a new technology; thus, the risks are small – as long as the medical professional administering the anesthesia adheres to the proper standard of care.
Because anesthesia is relatively safe with few risks, injuries, illnesses, and death are usually because of the anesthesiologist’s negligence. Negligent errors with anesthesia are a form of medical malpractice.
Statistics show that over 17,000 anesthetic errors were reported from 2007 to 2014. While these errors are becoming increasingly uncommon, they still impact the lives of thousands of people every single year. In less severe instances, a person may experience surgical or dental injury, infection, blurred vision, tinnitus, or headaches. However, the results of anesthesia errors often include severe injuries such as heart and airway damage, damage to the arteries, nerve damage, organ damage, paralysis, stroke, brain damage, or even death.
An anesthesiologist must review patient medical records and ask questions to verify information – especially allergies. Additionally, the anesthesiologist must review any prescribed medications that could negatively react with the anesthesia. Failure to perform even these basic safety protocols can result in devastating injuries. But other types of anesthesia-related negligence and medical malpractice can include:
- Failing to intubate a patient when appropriate
- Failing to administer the proper dosages
- Failing to monitor the patient
- Delayed delivery
- Prolonged sedation
- Faulty equipment
- Failing to take action for complications
- Failing to properly instruct a patient before, during and after the surgery
- Turning the pulse oximeter alarm off
Depending on the type of error and the severity of the error, the anesthesiologist’s negligence could cause any of the following:
- Heart attack
- Brain damage
- Trachea damage
- Spinal cord injuries
What Types of Compensation can be Given for an Anesthesia Negligence Error?
A person who has been injured due to an anesthesia negligence error can receive compensation for medical care related to the injury. They can also receive compensation for lost wages due to the injury and/or for the inability to earn an income due to the injury. A judge or jury can also award punitive damages if the case involves gross negligence or reckless behavior.
The Nail Law Firm has extensive experience handling anesthesia errors, and a proven track record of helping victims receive the compensation that is rightfully theirs. If you or someone you know has been injured due to this form of medical malpractice, get in touch with us immediately, and we will provide you with the personalized legal help, assistance, and representation you need to hold all responsible parties accountable.
If you suffered injuries, an illness, or lost a loved one because of an anesthesiologist’s error, contact a medical malpractice attorney at The Nail Law Firm as soon as possible for a free case evaluation.