Anesthesia Errors & Medical Malpractice

Anesthesia is essential to prevent patients from feeling pain during medical procedures, but administering anesthesia is not without risk. Anesthesia errors happen every day, sometimes with fatal consequences. Anesthesia mistakes happen with major operations as well as with common elective procedures. An anesthesia error can cause severe permanent brain damage or death to a patient. Anesthesia errors happen every day in hospitals, doctor’s offices, and surgical centers.

Types of Surgical Anesthesia

Anesthesia is used to prevent patients from suffering pain during surgery. Various forms have been used throughout the years. Currently, medicine uses three kinds of anesthesia:

  • Local anesthesia – This type of anesthesia is used to numb a specific part of the body and is generally used for less invasive procedures, like a mole removal or biopsy.
  • Regional anesthesia – This type of anesthesia numbs a larger area of the body. An epidural and spinal block are examples of regional anesthetics.
  • General anesthesia – This type of anesthesia causes the patient to be completely unconscious, so they are unable to feel pain.

Specially trained medical professionals administer anesthesia and monitor the patient during surgery. Mistakes can be made by anesthesiologists, but also by doctors, nurses, or any other medical staff member who is part of the medical team caring for the patient. When there is a breakdown in communication between these team members, or when a member is negligent in some way, errors can occur with serious consequences.

How do Anesthesia Errors Happen?

Some of the most common anesthesia errors which affect patients include:

  • Doctors administer too much anesthesia
  • Doctors administer too little anesthesia, resulting in anesthesia awareness (a patient being unable to speak or communicate but feeling pain)
  • Doctors delaying the delivery of anesthesia
  • Doctors failing to prevent or recognize adverse drug reactions caused by interactions between anesthesia and certain medications
  • Doctors administering the wrong type of anesthesia
  • Doctors failing to determine if a patient is allergic to anesthesia or accidentally administering an anesthesia medication the patient is allergic to
  • Doctors failing to provide proper instructions to patients before administering anesthesia
  • Doctors failing to properly monitor the patient during a surgical procedure in which the patient is under anesthesia
  • Doctors failing to consider the effects patient positioning may have on the patient's blood pressure, and the blood supply to the patient's brain (for example, in "beach chair position")
  • Defective equipment or medical devices used during anesthesia

Errors involving anesthesia can cause a variety of complications and injuries. While some are minor and temporary, some can be severe, serious, and permanent. Typically, everything goes as planned. It is important, however, to understand all the risks prior to any operation. 

Contact Us

If you or someone you love has suffered a serious injury because of an anesthesia mistake or other form of medical negligence, you may have a medical malpractice claim. These types of cases are complicated, and we have helped secure maximum recoveries for victims and their families. You can reach Attorney Melissa Scartelli at 570-346-2600.


Sources

https://www.cdc.gov/injectionsafety/providers/provider_faqs_med-admin.html

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31485589/

https://pubs.asahq.org/anesthesiology/article/127/2/326/17994/Frequency-and-Type-of-Situational-Awareness-Errors