Advocacy for Injured Clients Involving Anesthesia Errors
A central goal of anesthesia is to safely numb or sedate patients for medical or dental procedures while still delivering all of the oxygen the body needs to fuel the brain, heart, and other critical organs. We trust our medical providers to do everything possible to keep us safe while we are weakened or rendered helpless by anesthesia. While anesthesia is usually administered correctly, sometimes something goes wrong. When this happens, the root cause is usually human error. If this has happened to you or a loved one has died, you may have the right to hold the healthcare provider accountable.
Types of Anesthesia
“Anesthesia” refers to any of the variety of medications given to a patient to manage pain during a medical procedure through numbing or sedation. It may be administered through topical cream, spray, pill, or injection. Although there are several different drugs and ways to administer anesthesia, anesthesia medications can placed into three basic categories.
- Local Anesthesia. – Local anesthesia refers to medications given to numb a small area of the body. For example, it is used to numb gums during tooth extractions or drilling.
- Regional Anesthesia. Regional anesthesia refers to medications that numb a larger area of the body. Some examples include nerve blocks, epidural injections during labor, or surgeries in which the patient chooses not to be sedated.
- General Anesthesia. General anesthesia sedates the patient so that the patient loses consciousness during the procedure and is rendered unaware of his or her surroundings. As a result, it slows the body’s natural throat functioning including swallowing, gagging, or coughing. Due to this effect, general anesthesia is often accompanied by the use of a breathing tube to ensure ventilation. This is the most powerful and most dangerous form of anesthesia. It is typically used for major medical procedures.
Who Administers Anesthesia?
Anesthesia may be administered by a medical doctor anesthesiologist, a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthesiologist (CRNA), or by a medical resident in training. In most instances, patients do not know who will be providing anesthesia until shortly before the procedure. In some instances, a medical doctor anesthesiologist will administer the anesthesia before a CRNA or resident takes over to supervise the patient. No matter who is responsible for anesthesia, the anesthesiologist is held to a “standard of care” to act reasonably to ensure that the patient remains safe.
The Anesthesiologist’s Responsibility
Anesthesiologists are responsible for more than just administering anesthesia and intubating the patient. They have the vital task of supervising the patient to maintain precise levels of consciousness and heart function. The anesthesiologist must look for early warning signs of any potential complications. Because of this, the anesthesia should remain at the head of the bed throughout surgery.
Risks of Improperly Administered Anesthesia
While anesthesia is a valuable resource, every type of anesthesia involves risk. While some risks are due to the drugs themselves, most complications result from human error. Potential complications include, but are not limited to, he following:
- Brain damage
- Nerve damage
- Cardiovascular Injuries
- Birth Defects
- Organ Failure (such as lung collapse)
- Spinal Cord Injury
- Airway Trauma/Damage
- Damage to the Trachea, Teeth, or Mouth from Improper Intubation
- Ventilator Dependence
- Lung Infections
- Allergic reactions
- Bodily system toxicity
- Anesthesia awareness (patient is unable to move or communicate, but is aware of surroundings and/or pain)
- Psychological distress, such as PTSD, resulting from anesthesia awareness
Common Types of Anesthesia Malpractice
According to the American Society of Anesthesiologists, approximately 40 million anesthetics are administered each year in the USA. While the vast majority of these are done without complications, accidents happen.
Anesthesia errors can occur before surgery, during surgery, during child birth, during recovery, during dental procedures, or any other time when anesthesia is used. Most anesthesia errors occur in the surgical suite or immediately thereafter.
Forms of anesthesia malpractice include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Improper intubation
- Overdose or underdose of anesthesia
- Failure to avoid allergic reactions
- Failure to monitor the patient
- Defective medical equipment
- Failure to resuscitate
- Delayed delivery of anesthesia
- Complications from drug interactions
- Improper administration of oxygen
- Poor communication in the surgical room
- Failure to inform the patient about dietary or other restrictions before surgery
- Improper attention to a patient’s medical history and pre-existing conditions
- Improper administration of IV
- Using the wrong anesthesia medication
- Inserting medication into the wrong location
- Failure to identify patients with airway problems
- Errors in delivering spinal and epidural anesthesia
- Improper positioning of the patient
- Discharging the patient from post-anesthesia unit before anesthesia wears off
- Failure to recognize patient vomiting leading to asphyxiation
- Turning off alarms
- Keeping the patient sedated longer than safe and necessary
We Put Our Insight and Experience To Work For You
If you sustained an anesthesia error injury — or if a loved one died — during an anesthesia procedure, it can be extremely difficult to find out the truth about what really happened. Injured victims and their families are often met with a “code of silence” and vague answers from medical personnel who are concerned about the legal consequences of speaking up or acknowledging wrongdoing.
At Ray Gupta & Associates, LLC, we understand the complexities of these cases and work with a network of trusted medical experts to uncover the truth about what really happened in your case. Backed by decades of experience and a reputation for excellence, we will aggressively pursue compensation for your losses, including medical bills, pain and suffering, lost wages, and other damages.
Contact Our Anesthesia Error Lawyers Today For Help
If you or a loved one was injured, a lawsuit for hospital negligence may be able to get you the financial compensation and measure of justice you deserve. The experienced attorneys at Ray Gupta & Associates can help. Our law firm represents people and families in Illinois, Indiana and throughout the nation. Contact us to schedule a free consultation with a skilled and experienced medical malpractice lawyer. Cases are taken on a contingency fee basis – you pay no fees unless we recover damages for you.