What Is Anesthesia Malpractice?
Anesthesia malpractice, or anesthesiologist malpractice occurs when complications develop during the administration of anesthesia due to possible negligence.
Effective and safe anesthesia is one of the great achievements of modern medicine. However, anesthesia carries great risks. It must be administered with care, precision and skill. That’s why we have anesthesiologists, specialists who work with surgeons, whose job is to administer anesthesia and monitor a patient’s functioning during surgery.
Even with the precaution of having a specialist whose only responsibility during the procedure is monitoring the patient, errors occur far too often. These errors can have catastrophic consequences, and in some cases, can be fatal.
What Are Common Anesthesia Errors?
Anesthesia Malpractice, or medical malpractice causing injury following anesthesia, can be caused by an anesthesiologist or other health care professional involved in a surgical procedure.
Failures to properly and thoroughly evaluate a patient prior to administering anesthesia are among the many scenarios in which anesthesia malpractice may occur. Anesthesia errors can also occur due to dosage errors when an anesthesiologist administers too much or too little anesthesia to a patient. Aspiration can also occur when the patient cannot swallow due to anesthesia and food, vomit, or liquid enters the patient’s trachea or lungs. Monitoring equipment needed to measure the patient’s vitals could also be turned off, leading to the possibility that any medical professionals present during a patient’s procedure could miss important alerts or changes in patient status. Other common errors include:
Prior to any operation, anesthesiologists must perform a thorough review of their patient’s medical history and records. Except for certain emergent circumstances, typically patients must refrain from eating or drinking prior to their procedure to reduce the likelihood of aspiration once anesthesia is administered.
If an anesthesiologist fails to perform thorough pre-operative screening, they could, for instance, potentially administer drugs the patient is allergic to, which could result in serious injury or death.
INTUBATION & EXTUBATION ERRORS
When general anesthesia is administered, patients are effectively paralyzed, which can make it harder for them to breathe. To encourage oxygenation, anesthesiologists typically intubate the patient by inserting a breathing tube (endotracheal) down the patient’s trachea or windpipe.
If this tube is incorrectly placed, the following complications may occur:
- Nerve damage in the esophagus or neck
- Anoxic or hypoxic brain damage due to lack of oxygen
- Arrhythmia (dangerously fast heartbeat)
- Perforated trachea
- Paralysis of the vocal cords
- Injuries to the teeth, lips, or mouth
Anesthesia Injury due to Anesthesia Malpractice
Among the many potential consequences of anesthesia overdose are coma, brain injury, and death. Specifically, an anesthesia accident can result in:
- Heart attack
- Brain injury
- Birth defects
- Nerve damage
- Spinal cord injury
- Awareness and/or pain during surgery (see below)
One of the most horrifying anesthesia accidents is the administration of too little anesthesia or delayed anesthesia resulting in awareness, waking up, and/or the ability to feel pain during surgery.
During “anesthesia awareness” the patient is paralyzed and cannot move or communicate, but may experience extreme pain, feeling the surgery itself, the inability to breathe, and extreme terror. Anesthesia awareness can lead to long-term psychological and emotional damage, including:
- Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
- Sleep disorders
- Panic and anxiety disorders
- Extreme fear of doctors and medical settings, leading to the avoidance of necessary medical care
What To Do After Anesthesia Injuries
Undergoing an operation where anesthesia will be administered means placing complete trust in an anesthesiologist to safeguard a patient’s vital life functions. While the vast majority of anesthesiology administration is safely performed without incident, anesthesiology malpractice does occur, sometimes with devastating results.
Anesthesiology injuries can mean sudden emotional, physical, and financial hardships for not only patients but also for their families. It might be difficult to think about seeking legal help during such a traumatic event, but there is a limited time frame for taking legal action. In many cases you will need the compensation that you deserve as soon as possible.
If you or a loved one has experienced death or a serious injury which you think may have been because of an anesthesiology error or anesthesia malpractice, you may be entitled to compensation, including coverage for one or all of the following:
- Current and future medical bills
- Loss of companionship
- Long-term disability
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Current and future loss of wages
- Pain and suffering
- Long-term care expenses
- Burial expenses
CONTACT OUR NEW JERSEY OR PHILADELPHIA OFFICES ABOUT AN ANESTHESIA MALPRACTICE CASE
New Jersey and Philadelphia medical malpractice lawyers Weiss & Paarz have presented many cases of anesthesiology malpractice to juries, helping families achieve substantial financial recoveries. Our team is fully committed to using the experience and knowledge gained by all of our cases to assist families and individuals who have suffered a severe, permanent injury or who have died because of medical malpractice in their effort to obtain compensation and seek justice.
If you believe you or a loved one may have experienced such an injury, contact Weiss & Paarz, P.C., today.