Patients who undergo surgical procedures will be placed in an unconscious or semi-conscious state without pain by an anesthesiologist, often through the use of a general anesthetic. Anesthesia is generally considered safe today. However errors in using anesthesia can still be made, often with serious consequences.
There are a number of reason anesthesia errors may occur. Most are the result of professional negligence. If, given the current medical knowledge, the anesthesia error could have been prevented the medical providers responsible may be liable to the patient for their injuries and suffering.
There are various points during the patient’s stay in the hospital or doctor’s office during which an anesthesia error can occur. Patient’s place their trust in their medical providers to do everything possible to ensure that anesthesia errors do not occur. Their failure to exercise the necessary degree of care and prudence results in the injured patient’s right to hold their medical providers accountable.
Common anesthesia mistakes that result from medical negligence include:
- Error in anesthesia dosage
- Delay in delivering anesthesia
- Failing to intubate or causing injury during intubation
- Failing to monitor the patient properly
- Failing to recognize complications
- Leaving the patient unattended
- Turing the alarm of the pulse oximeter off
- Improperly or negligently administering oxygen during the surgery
- Allowing oxygen too close to surgical equipment that is hot
- The use of drugs or alcohol by the attending medical provider
- Errors in communication between and among medical staff and patients before, during or after the surgical procedure
- Sedation that is dangerously prolonged
- Defective equipment
The type of damage resulting from an anesthesia error depends on the type of mistake and the medical response to that mistake. Common injuries that result from anesthesia errors include:
- Intubation errors resulting in tracheal damage or injury to the areas surrounding the trachea
- Birth defects
- Brain damage including a traumatic brain injury
- Asphyxia or the lack of an adequate oxygen supply
- Cardiovascular injury, possibly including heart attack or stroke
- Loss of bodily function
- Spinal cord injury, possibly leading to paralysis or loss of feeling and function
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