Anesthesia is the use of medicine during a medical procedure to prevent the patient undergoing surgery from feeling pain. It induces a temporary loss of sensation before the surgery begins to make it easier to endure. It is administered through an IV or a mask. While anesthesia is safe when administered correctly, complications do occur in some cases, and these may be considered medical malpractice depending on the circumstances.
Types of Anesthesia
The type of anesthesia administered depends on what procedure it is used for.
There are three main types:
- General: This is the most common type of anesthesia. It causes the patient to completely lose consciousness for major surgery, such as a knee replacement.
- Monitored: Also known as sedation, monitored anesthesia is used when general is too much, but local is not enough. For example, it would be used for a colonoscopy.
- Regional: This anesthesia is used to numb a large part of the body for a more minor situation than with general anesthesia. It is often used in an epidural during childbirth. The patient remains conscious during this kind of procedure.
- Local: Local anesthesia numbs a small part of the body through an injection. It is most commonly used in dental work such as fillings.
There is always a certain level of risk involved when you receive any kind of anesthesia. However, negligence on behalf of doctors, nurses, and other hospital staff can have serious consequences. Side effects from anesthesia malpractice can range from nausea to brain damage, and may even result in death. Anesthesia errors can occur before, during, and after the procedure.
- Not properly reviewing the patient’s medical records or communicating the pre-operation guidelines. For example, many procedures require refraining from eating or drinking for a certain amount of time prior to surgery. Not doing so can increase the risk of complications. This can also result in an allergic reaction or a fatal reaction with another medication the patient is taking.
- Giving the incorrect dose or type of anesthesia. Incorrect dosage can cause an anesthesia overdose, which might permanently damage the nerves or brain. It can also cause anesthesia awareness. This is where the patient is not given a big enough dose and wakes up during the surgery.
Errors During the Operation
- Improperly placing the intubation tube. The intubation tube is placed down the throat to help the patient breathe during the surgical procedure. Not installing it correctly can lead to a number of complications, including a stroke, rapid heartbeat, and vocal cord paralysis.
- Managing the patient’s vital signs incorrectly. Anesthesiologists are responsible for carefully checking blood pressure, oxygen levels, heart rate, and other vital signs during surgery. If the monitoring equipment gets turned off, it will not alert the doctors of a problem.
- Poorly removing the intubation tube. Removing the tube safely is just as important as placing it. Patients might move around rapidly and act aggressively due to a lack of oxygen if the tube is removed too soon.
- Failure to make sure the patient has fully regained consciousness. The patient should not be discharged until the anesthesia has fully worn off. This includes being moved to a different location in the hospital.
If you or a loved one are a victim of anesthesia malpractice, Grabb & Durando urges you to contact our firm. Our team will present you with the legal options available to you, and help you get the compensation you deserve.