One of the most important parts of any surgical procedure is the administration of anesthesia. Anesthetic drugs allow patients to avoid the pain and discomfort associated with surgery by medically inducing unconsciousness. Administering anesthesia is a difficult process that requires anesthesiologists to assess each patient’s weight, general health, and to take into consideration the type of surgical procedure the patient will undergo. Because of the many factors involved in administering anesthesia, it is unfortunately not uncommon for a medical professional’s negligence or mistake to cause a patient unnecessary harm, so if you or a loved one recently experienced complications with anesthesia administered as part of a surgical procedure, it is critical to speak to an experienced medical malpractice attorney who can help explain your legal options.
Types of Anesthesia
Anesthesia errors constitute a type of medical malpractice when they occur as a result of a medical professional’s negligence. These errors can be performed by doctors, nurses, anesthesiologists, and other medical staff who assist in administering anesthetic drugs. There are a variety of types of anesthesia. The most common include:
- General anesthesia, which renders a patient unconscious;
- Spinal and epidural anesthesia, which is injected into the spinal cord and is most commonly used during childbirth;
- Local anesthesia, which numbs a specific part of the body;
- Dissociative anesthesia, which creates a trance-like state; and
- Regional anesthesia, which numbs larger areas of the body.
Because administering anesthesia is so difficult, it is especially important for doctors to follow specific and careful procedures. Failing to do so could have serious and even life-threatening consequences. Most anesthesia errors fall under one of the following categories:
- Administering too much or too little of a drug;
- Improperly intubating the patient;
- Waiting too long to administer anesthesia;
- Administering the wrong type of anesthesia drug;
- Failing to prevent interactions with other medications;
- Using defective medical devices to administer anesthesia;
- Failing to monitor a patient or to properly administer oxygen during the surgery;
- Failing to instruct patients on limiting food or liquid intake prior to surgery; and
- Administering anesthetic drugs to a patient with allergies.
These errors can have serious repercussions on a patient’s health, including:
- Dizziness and confusion;
- Blurred vision or a ringing in the ears;
- An abnormal pulse or heart problems;
- Brain or organ damage;
- Blood pressure complications;
- Vein, artery, and nerve damage;
- Spinal cord damage;
- Birth defects;
- Strokes and seizures;
- Postoperative pain;
- Nausea or vomiting;
- Tooth damage;
- Larynx damage or a sore throat;
- Serious allergic reaction;
- Respiratory problems;
- Blood clots;
- Anesthesia awareness, which means that a patient is conscious during the procedure and so experiences pain, but is unable to physically respond; and
- Coma or death.
To recover compensation for an anesthesiologist’s negligence, the injured party must establish that a doctor failed to exercise the degree of care and skill that another reasonably competent medical professional would have provided in the same or similar circumstances. To help establish negligence, an expert witness will need to testify as to the standard of care in that profession and whether the anesthesiologist’s behavior constituted a breach of that standard.
Contact a Dedicated Medical Malpractice Lawyer Today
If you live in Pennsylvania or New Jersey and were injured as a result of an anesthesia error, please contact Cohen, Placitella, & Roth, P.C. Attorneys at Law, at (215) 567-3500 to schedule a free consultation.