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Anesthesia Errors and Medical Malpractice Lawsuits

Steve Wagner

What is medical malpractice?
Medical malpractice occurs when there is a serious error in judgment on part of the health care provider that causes immense damage to the patient. The negligent act or omission on part of the hospital personnel, not being at par with the standards set by the medical community, will result in the him/her facing a lifetime ban and lawsuits seeking compensation.

What are anesthesia errors?
Anesthesia errors are one of the most commonly seen types of medical malpractices. An overdose or lesser amount of anesthesia administered can have life changing consequences. As anesthesia drugs are quite strong, anesthesia errors are considered one of the most dangerous forms of medical negligence. The mortality rate from general anesthesia is estimated to be 1 in 250,000 patients, according to a 2011 publication from the National Institutes of Health.

Multitasking causes mistakes
Anesthesiologists are usually overworked and have to perform multiple tasks at a given point of time. Given this fact, they can make mistakes regarding the quantity of anesthesia to be administered to a particular patient. Even a small mistake on the part of an anesthesiologist can leave a patient paralyzed for life, or result in death.

Types of anesthesia errors
As anesthetic drugs are toxic to the body, their use must be carefully monitored. Here is a list of common mistakes that may prove harmful to the patient:

  1. Overdose of the drug: An overdose of the anesthetic drug can have dangerous consequences as it may harm vital body parts.
  2. Poor communication between doctors: It is very important that the doctor and anesthesiologist are on the same page regarding the procedures. Any miscommunication can have disastrous results.
  3. Delay in giving anesthesia: Any delay in administering anesthesia during surgery can also cause harm to the patient.
  4. Longer sedation: If after the operation, the patient is taking too long to regain consciousness, it can also be considered a case of anesthesia error.
  5. Slow reaction to medical emergency: Sometimes complications may arise while administering anesthesia and so it is crucial that doctors respond quickly and effectively to this emergency.
  6. Delay in providing oxygen: An anesthesia error can also occur when there is delay in providing the much-needed oxygen to the patient.
  7. Equipment misuse: The misuse/improper use of anesthesia machines can also lead to errors. Defective equipments can also be a factor.

Damages caused by anesthesia errors
Too much or too little of anesthesia drugs can cause physical or emotional damage, and in some cases death. The following complications can arise due to anesthesia errors:

  1. Anesthesia awareness: This happens when the patient is conscious even after administration of the drug. He would be aware of the pain of the surgery but would be in no position to communicate with the doctor. The patient is rendered utterly helpless as he is not able to call out or move his body.
  2. Post-traumatic stress disorder: Victims recovering from anesthesia awareness can experience post-traumatic stress disorder, which includes lack of sleep, nightmares, paranoia and flashbacks.
  3. Coma/Stroke/Paralysis: A major fallout of anesthesia error is the patient going into a coma or developing paralysis. He can also get a stroke, which leaves him bed-ridden.
  4. Asphyxiation/Brain damage: Delay in administering oxygen can lead to asphyxiation and damage to the brain as it is deprived of oxygen.
  5. Birth defects: During delivery, a wrong dose of anesthesia to the expectant mother can cause serious harm to the fetus and result in severe birth defects like cerebral palsy.
  6. Organ Failure/Death: A serious error on the part of the medical personnel can lead to multiple organ failure or in extreme cases, even death.

Taking the legal route

If a family member’s life has been impacted due to anesthesia injuries caused by malpractice, one can file for compensation against medical negligence. People are advised to seek the help of experienced personal injury lawyers like Wagner Reese who will work to secure the highest compensation possible.

Who can be held responsible?

The anesthesiology error case can be filed against doctors, anesthesiologists, nurses and other hospital staff. The hospital, pharmaceutical companies and medical equipment manufacturing firm can also be held responsible for the harm caused to the patient.

Seeking Compensation

People can seek compensation for loss of income/source of livelihood if a loved one has died due to anesthesia errors. In other cases, they can seek redressal for long-term medical expenses, long-term care, cost of caregivers, cost of special education and expensive medical equipment. If you or a loved one has been affected by anesthesia errors, contact the Indiana medical malpractice attorneys at Wagner Reese for a free consultation about your case.


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