In ancient Egypt, physicians used a mixture of pulverized marble and vinegar as an anesthetic to be used during surgeries. Fortunately, anesthesia has undergone great advancements since then. From a simple localized numbing agent all the way to induced unconsciousness, medical professionals now have a wide range of anesthetics to select from when performing different procedures. However, despite medical and scientific progress, the use of anesthesia still poses a risk to patients. Just as there are several types of anesthesia, there are several complications that can arise when anesthesia is administered. If these complications are the result of an anesthesiologist’s error or failure to adhere to their medical standard of care, they can be found liable for medical malpractice.
Here, we will go over a few of the most common medical malpractice cases that pertain to the use of anesthesia. If you have suffered an injury due to an anesthesia error, it could mean that you can file for a medical malpractice claim. Call Novo Law Firm PC to discuss your situation. Our attorneys can let you know what steps to take next in order to receive compensation for your injuries.
Three categories of anesthesia
Before going into cases involving anesthesia errors, let us first take a look at the three major categories of anesthesia typically used by anesthesiologist:
Local anesthesia—this type of anesthesia serves to prevent pain in and around a specific area during minor procedures that can be performed while you are awake. For example, dentist frequently use local anesthesia when treating a cavity.
Regional anesthesia—this type of anesthesia involves injecting medication to a group of nerves in order to block pain over a wide part of the body. Patients may stay awake or be given sedation when regional anesthesia is administered. For example, regional anesthesia may be used during childbirth to block the sensation of pain from the waist down.
General anesthesia—this type of anesthesia uses a combination of medications that induce a sleep-like state in patients, preventing cognitive awareness, pain, as well as muscle use. For example, an appendectomy would require general anesthesia in order to remove the appendix without subjecting the patient to pain.
Anesthesiologist will determine what type of anesthesia is to be used on a patient depending on the procedure that is to take place.
Common anesthesia malpractice examples
With any use of anesthesia, there are risks involved. As such, anesthesiologists must use extreme caution when administering medicine to patients before and during medical procedures. What follows here are a few examples of common anesthesia errors that can take place should an anesthesiologist neglect to use proper care.
Clear communication between an anesthesiologist, surgical team, and a patient is imperative even before anesthesia is administered. An anesthesiologist must carefully evaluate a patient’s medical history and create a plan for dispensing the proper anesthetics to the patient based on their records. Failing to carefully go over a patient’s profile may lead an anesthesiologist to miss a key issue with a patient’s health such as an allergy or current medication which can result in a dangerous reaction to the anesthesia once it enters the body.
Another important subject that must be fully communicated to a patient is preoperative instructions. An anesthesiologist must make sure that a patient understands and follows through with any physical preparations such as fasting or discontinuing certain medications prior to surgery. If an anesthesiologist does not properly communicate these instructions to a patient, they may put the patient at risk for complications.
Incorrect anesthesia dosage
Administering anesthesia is not an instance where one size fits all. It requires careful planning and accurate dosage that is tailored to each patient in order to ensure that the medical procedure they undergo is a success. However, dosage errors can and do occur when an anesthesiologist dispenses an incorrect amount of anesthetics into a patient’s system. Too much anesthesia may lead to side effects that can be as mild as temporary nausea or as severe as permanent brain damage or even death. Administering too little anesthesia can result in intraoperative awareness and subsequent psychological distress or trauma. An anesthesiologist is responsible for ensuring that they give patients the right amount of anesthetics to get them safely through a medical procedure.
Failure to monitor a patient
Although anesthesiologist are primarily in charge of administering anesthesia to patients, they are also responsible for keeping a close watch over patients for the duration of their surgery. This includes monitoring the body’s vital signs such as temperature, heart rate, oxygen levels, and blood pressure. In addition, anesthesiologists must continually observe vital organ function and make sure they are properly regulated. The active monitoring of a patient under anesthesia is imperative. Neglecting to do so would leave an anesthesiologist unprepared to treat any eventuality that may come up during surgery, possibly resulting in further complications for the patient.
Proving medical malpractice
As with any area in medical malpractice, anesthesia error claims can be extremely complex and difficult to prove. A claimant must demonstrate that the anesthesiologist neglected to follow a prescribed standard of care which directly resulted in an injury. A mistake or an unsuccessful surgery do not automatically mean that medical malpractice occurred. There needs to be a causal link between proved negligence and a patient’s injury which must be demonstrated through extensive evidence gathering, thorough investigation, and numerous medical expert testimonies. Only an experienced medical malpractice attorney can determine if the necessary elements of a medical malpractice claim are present and can be substantiated. If you are looking for a medical malpractice attorney to look into your claim, contact Novo Law Firm PC. We have 20 years of experience handling medical malpractice cases and will make sure you receive fair compensation for the injuries you’ve sustained.