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Anesthesia Errors can Turn Routine Surgeries into a Tragedy

Wagner Reese

When surgery is performed, it almost always requires the administration of anesthesia. Every year, around 40 million surgeries are performed and anesthesia is administered in at least 90% of these surgeries. The administration of anesthesia provides pain relief for the patient while allowing the doctor to perform the surgery smoothly. Anesthesia is administered by either an anesthesiologist, who is a physician, or by a nurse anesthetist, who is a nurse certified in anesthesia. When an anesthesiologist or anesthetist commits a mistake, it can turn even a routine surgery like a foot surgery into a tragedy. There is zero room for error when administering anesthesia as the person administering it is in control of the patient’s life functions, such as breathing and heart rate.

Anesthesia errors or complications can arise due to improper dosage of anesthesia, defective equipment, improper monitoring of patient’s vital signs, and development of allergic reactions to the drug used. If the anesthesia administered is too much, it can be toxic and can lead to changes in breathing and heart rate, which can lead to a heart attack, brain injury, collapsed lung, or stroke. Too much use of a neuromuscular blocking agent can lead to prolonged paralysis. Almost 50% of anesthesia-related deaths are due to overdose of anesthetics. Nerve damage can also occur if the anesthesia is injected too close to the spinal cord or a nerve.

Another dreaded complication is anesthesia awareness, where the patient is awake during the surgery, yet is unable to communicate with the doctors as he or she is paralyzed. It is estimated that around 20,000 patients experience some form of anesthesia awareness every year. Of these, 30% experience pain. Anesthesia awareness can range from being completely conscious and aware of pain to vague memories of conversations between doctors. Anesthesia awareness is a very traumatic experience with about one-third of victims experiencing psychological issues such as post traumatic stress disorder, insomnia, flashbacks, and panic attacks after the operation.

Anesthesia malpractice causes more than 30 deaths every year and is a contributing factor in around 250 surgical deaths. About 60% to 80% of anesthesia-related deaths are due to human error and only 4% of anesthesia errors are due to equipment failure. In other words, it is preventable. If you or one of your loved ones have been injured due to the faulty administration of anesthesia, you may have a case for medical malpractice. Contact one of our experienced Indiana medical malpractice lawyers now and we will give you a free consultation of your case. We always have your best interests at heart and will do everything in our power to ensure that you receive fair compensation


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