Patients undergoing medical procedures do not expect to suffer side effects and injuries caused by anesthesia, but it does happen. Anesthesia allows providers to perform life-saving operations and less severe medical tasks without causing pain. There are risks involved, however. Some patients might experience mild or medium side effects, but others end up with debilitating injuries because of medical errors and negligence.
General anesthesia slows down throat functioning, so if liquid or food gets stuck in the respiratory tract, the patient could choke or vomit. There might also be increased blood pressure and significant damage to the voice box, throat, and mouth.
Practitioners administer regional anesthesia via injections close to the spinal cord or nerves. This can cause permanent nerve damage or temporary soreness, plus possibilities for infections, pulmonary problems, and system toxicity.
Conscious sedation or monitored anesthesia care (MAC) is when patients are partially awake and aware of their surroundings. It is used in 10 to 30 percent of medical procedures and requires careful monitoring. Possible complications include nausea and vomiting, sleepiness, and trouble breathing. In rare instances, MAC patients experience allergic reactions, strokes, or heart attacks.
Here are some other injuries that can be caused by anesthesia:
- Anaphylaxis and other severe allergic reactions
- Blood clots
- Brain damage
- Heart attack
- Mental confusion and delirium
- Respiratory problems
What Are Common Anesthesia Errors?
Here are some of the most common anesthesia errors that patients experience:
- Communication mistakes: Anesthesiologists are also responsible for communicating the patient’s conditions and vital signs to team members during medical procedures. The information must be timely and accurate to prevent health complications.
- Contraindications: An anesthetic contraindication can happen when a patient’s allergies or other medications interact negatively with the anesthetic used during a procedure. This is one reason why it is vital for medical care providers to take detailed, accurate patient histories and to alert team members of patient allergies.
- Dosage errors: The correct amount of anesthesia must carefully be administered to patients, as overdoses can cause coma or brain damage. Anesthesia awareness is the opposite problem – it happens when a patient does not receive enough anesthesia and becomes conscious during a procedure. The amount given is enough to prevent them from communicating, but they are awake enough to feel significant pain; that can be a traumatic experience. If the anesthesia is administered longer than needed, that can also cause problematic side effects.
- Faulty equipment: In some cases, defective medical equipment needs to properly administer or track anesthesia in patients. This might not be discovered until after an injury has occurred.
How Can I Prove Negligence for an Anesthesia Error?
To prove negligence in a medical malpractice claim, a plaintiff must be able to show that the defendant failed to exercise the appropriate duty of care. That is defined as the degree of skill and care average healthcare practicing in that specialty would have used.
Expert medical witnesses with similar backgrounds and qualifications are often called to testify. Your lawyer may also seek access to the anesthesiologist’s operative notes and other documentation from the medical professionals involved in your care. They will also need to know if you had any risk factors for anesthesia before it was administered. Another essential angle is the known complication rate for the kind of anesthesia that was used.
Our Dayton Medical Malpractice Lawyers at Wright & Schulte LLC Are Experienced in Anesthesia Malpractice Cases
If you or a loved one suffered injuries from an anesthesia mistake, contact our Dayton medical malpractice lawyers at Wright & Schulte LLC. Call us at 937-222-7477 or complete our online form for a free consultation. Located in Dayton, Ohio, we serve clients in Cincinnati, Columbus, Cleveland, Centerville, Toledo, Youngstown, and Miamisburg.