Anesthesia Errors Can be Deadly
Whenever you undergo a surgical procedure, an anesthesiologist will administer anesthesia to sedate you and block the pain of the procedure. The administration of anesthesia is a dangerous process that can cause serious harm if an error is made. Unfortunately, anesthesia errors do occur and the results are often life threatening and fatal.
An estimated 40 million anesthetic drugs are administered to patients in hospitals across the United States every year. In general, there are 5 types of anesthesia that are used to produce varied states of consciousness:
- General anesthesia – the patient is completely unconscious
- Epidural anesthesia – anesthesia is administered into the spinal column, decreasing the pain and movement of the part of the body below the injection.
- Local anesthesia – this is a localized medication that is given to numb a small area of the body, such as a tooth or a toe.
- Regional anesthesia – this is used to numb and paralyze larger areas of the body, such as arms or legs.
- Dissociative anesthesia – this puts patients in a semi-conscious state
Types of Anesthesia Errors
Anesthesia errors are a form of medical malpractice that occurs when an anesthesiologist or medical professional makes a mistake in administering anesthesia medication. It can also occur if the equipment that monitors the medication or the patient’s status is defective. Anesthesia errors can range from minor respiratory depression to more serious cardiac arrest and brain damage. Young children and the elderly are at an increased risk for experiencing an adverse reaction after receiving anesthesia.
Common types of anesthesia errors include:
- Incorrect anesthesia given
- Administering medication that reacts harmfully in combination with the anesthesia
- Failure to thoroughly examine the patient’s medical history
- Administering insufficient amounts of anesthesia, resulting in the patient experiencing the surgery but being unable to communicate this
- Improper dose of anesthesia given
- Failure to monitor patient’s vital signs appropriately while patient is sedated
- Defective anesthesia pump or monitoring system
How Common are Anesthesia Errors?
An Aesthesia & Analgesia survey found that over 80% of all anesthesiologists have been involved in a fatal or serious incident to a patient at some point during their medical career. Many of these errors resulted in serious injury or death to a patient. The majority of those anesthesiologists who participated in the survey also said that they felt personally responsible for the patient’s injury or death.
A Columbia University study was conducted to uncover main causes of anesthesia related deaths. Researchers reviewed 2,211 anesthesia-related deaths over the course of 6 years in the United States, and they found that 46.6% of all anesthesia fatalities were caused by anesthesia overdose.
The American Society of Anesthesiologists found that respiratory issues related to anesthesia were responsible for 45% of all brain damage and deaths in patients.
Anesthesiologist Duty of Care
When a patient undergoes surgery, they put their trust in the hands of their surgeon and anesthesiologist. They trust that these medical professionals will perform their jobs carefully and without malice. Yet there are times when an anesthesiologist or medical professional cuts vital safety protocols, which directly results in harm to the patient. When anesthesia is involved, the result can be fatal.
If you or someone you love has been injured because of an anesthesia error, it is important to know that you have legal options. In Florida, doctors and anesthesiologists owe a duty of care to their patients. When a doctor or anesthesiologist breaches this duty of care, they can be found guilty of medical malpractice.
Yet medical malpractice is often difficult to prove. As such, you need an experienced Miami medical malpractice attorney on your side from the very start. Your attorney will need to conduct a thorough investigation of your incident to determine if medical malpractice was the cause of your anesthesia error and subsequent injury. This often includes combing through your medical records and interviewing eyewitnesses that were present during the surgical procedure.
If you believe that your injury or a loved one’s death was caused by an anesthesia error, you need an experienced Miami medical malpractice attorney on your side. At the Law Offices of Victor Dante, our Miami medical malpractice attorneys can review your case and help you choose the legal path that is best for you.