Over the course of a lifetime, most individuals have a medical need that requires major surgery. According to the World Health Organization, a surgical procedure is often the only recourse to correct a disability or a serious medical condition or disease that could shorten one’s life. Commonly, patients’ thoughts center on being well post-operation, the amount of time it will take to recover, and their return to a healthy, “normal” life. However, additional concerns require some consideration prior to surgery, including the safety surrounding the use of anesthesia.
What is Anesthesia?
The majority of surgical procedures requires a patient to be under the effect of anesthesia during the operation that takes the patient into an unconscious or semi-conscious state. Medical professionals known as anesthesiologists use a combination of powerful medications or gas to place a patient under anesthesia so that a surgical procedure can be performed without the patient being fully aware. A great deal of responsibility lies with anesthesiologists to ensure the patient remains in a sedated state during and shortly after a surgery, but it is possible for an error to occur through negligence or medical malpractice.
The most common mishaps with the administration of anesthesia include the following:
- Incorrect dosage – Too much or too little anesthesia given prior to a medical procedure such as surgery can have a long lasting effect on the patient. Dosage errors are often the result of improper labeling of medications or miscalculations by medical professionals.
- Delayed delivery – Anesthesia must be administered in a timely fashion, prior to a surgery taking place as well as during a procedure. If a leak is present, an IV is not properly secured, or a syringe is incorrectly changed, patients can experience a number of complications due to delayed delivery.
- Failure to intubate – Anesthesiologists have the responsibility to intubate patients during a surgical procedure so that breathing remains normal and constant. If there is a need for intubation during an operation and it is not done or is delayed, patients may face serious complications post-surgery.
- Improper or lack of monitoring – A patient’s level of consciousness must be monitored throughout a surgery, and the anesthesiologist is tasked with this responsibility. If monitoring is not done on a consistent basis or is neglected altogether, patients can experience unnecessary and unwanted distress during and after surgery.
- Miscommunication – Anesthesiologists are not the only medical professionals who are responsible for patient safety before, during, and after surgery. Surgeons, administrative staff, and nurses also have an obligation to share pertinent information about the procedure to patients, including instructions on food and drink consumption before a surgery and its effect on anesthesia. Communication errors among medical professionals and patients can lead to irreversible complications long after the procedure is completed.
Injuries Caused by Anesthesia Errors
Patients can suffer from a wide range of injuries due to negligence or malpractice before, during, or after administration of anesthesia. The most common injuries include:
- Cardiovascular injury, such as a stroke or heart attack
- Damage to the trachea
- Traumatic brain damage
- Loss of normal bodily functions
- Spinal cord injuries
Gladstein Law Firm, PLLC | A Medical Malpractice Law Firm
While surgeries are commonplace, errors due to malpractice should not be. If you believe you have suffered from the negligence or gross oversight of an anesthesiologist or other medical professional while undergoing a surgical procedure, we are here to help. Seth Gladstein is a Louisville attorney who represents victims of anesthesia malpractice. He has a deep understanding of the complexities of the medical system, and will use this to expertise to fight aggressively to get you the compensation necessary to recover. Contact us today for a free consultation.