New research shows that anesthesia errors can occur frequently during surgical procedures. Fortunately, most are minor and can be recognized and corrected during surgery. Patients usually never even know when these minor errors occur, as problems may only be revealed when a serious medical issue or death results from the negligence of the anesthesiologist. More grave errors often lead to lasting and debilitating medical problems, and are a serious form of medical malpractice.
What Is Anesthesia?
Anesthesia is intended to alleviate pain during a surgical procedure and is widely used to put patients into an unconscious or semi-conscious state during an operation. The medications the anesthesiologist uses are meant to control heart rate, breathing and blood pressure. Regional anesthesia, which is used to put patients into a semi-conscious state, affects a large portion of the body by blocking a group of nerves or affecting the spinal cord. General anesthesia affects the body and brain and renders a patient unconscious during surgery.
Types of Anesthesia Errors
Though most anesthesiologists do not meet with patients prior to the day of the surgery, they are responsible for communicating with patients and checking the medical charts and patient history to identify any potential complications. Anesthesiologists are also responsible for making sure that equipment is well-maintained prior to usage. When anesthesiologists fail at fulfilling their responsibilities, they are negligent and cause anesthesia errors.
Anesthesiologists may be negligent in their responsibilities in a variety of ways. They might administer the wrong drug or the wrong dosage of a particular drug, which can present serious complications in the case of a medical allergy. Anesthesiologist errors also occur when the anesthesiologist fails to monitor a patient’s vital signs or administers medication too late in the procedure. Other errors happen as a result of inadequate patient communication or negligence in maintaining or using the medical equipment.
Ramifications of Anesthesia Errors
Among the various types of surgical errors, anesthesia errors often result in the most serious medical problems and are also most frequently deadly errors. When an insufficient medication dosage is given to a patient, he or she may regain consciousness during the operation, experiencing incredible pain but be unable to move or communicate. This type of trauma can have a lasting psychological effect on a patient, leaving him or her with an anxiety disorder, sleeping problems or another mental disability. An overdose of anesthesia can cause a patient’s oxygen level to decrease, which can cause a heart attack, stroke, brain damage or even death.
Anesthesia and surgical errors occur more often than many people think, and they can lead to significant health complications. If you or a loved one has experienced a medical problem due to an anesthesiologist’s negligence, contact the professionals at Rasmussen and Miner in Salt Lake City to schedule a free consultation to discuss your medical malpractice case related to hospital, surgery or anesthesia errors.