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Anesthesia Errors That can Lead to Medical Malpractice Claim

Surgery is one of the most stressful events an individual can go through. Whether it is you or a loved one, every patient deserves the utmost care when going into the operating room and ought to be able to rely on the doctors responsible for their care. Anesthesia is a modern miracle, putting patients in a medically induced unconscious state and allowing doctors to operate on them without any pain or discomfort. Unfortunately, anesthesia is also an increasing cause of injury to patients. Of the 20 million patients given anesthetics yearly in the United States, more than 2,000 deaths are attributable to their use. If you believe you were the victim of improper anesthetic administration, you may have a cause of action against your medical provider.

Anesthesia is so complex that it requires an entirely separate field within the medical industry dedicated to its administration. These practitioners are dealing with patients in an extremely vulnerable state, and a small error can result in serious injury or even death. Just as the medical industry recognizes the importance of competent anesthesiologists, the law affords a remedy to those harmed by anesthesia.

Types of Claims

Medical malpractice claims that arise from anesthesia are predominantly based on negligence. There are a variety of claims that can be brought.

Failure to follow protocol prior to the administration of anesthesia. Anesthesiologists have duties to their patient before they are even prepped for surgery. They must have detailed knowledge of the patient’s medical history, obtain proper consultations, and be available during the anesthetic’s administration to manage and supervise the process. If these protocols are not followed there is a risk that the anesthesiologist may select a type or amount of the anesthetic that will harm the patient due to allergies or drug interactions. If you believe any of these practices were not implemented, you may have a valid claim for medical malpractice.

Failure to obtain patient’s informed consent in relation to anesthesia. You have a right to know the risks of the procedure you are undergoing. If a care provider does not discuss the well-known complications of anesthesia and obtain your consent, you may have a medical malpractice claim.

Improper administration of anesthetic agents. 70% of all successful medical claims against anesthesiologists fall into this category. This claim may arise from the improper selection or administration of type of anesthesia, dosage, or method. This may occur when doctors use an anesthetic which they have reason to know poses an increased risk to a patient due to their medical history or other drugs in their system, if they use too much or too little of the anesthetic, or if way the anesthetic was administered was improper. Improper administration claims often include drug overdoses interactions, high spinal injections, and inadequate provision of oxygen. These are all cause for a potential medical malpractice suit against your anesthesiologist.

Improper monitoring of patient during surgery. Anesthesiologists are responsible for monitoring a patient’s response to anesthesia during surgery by evaluating vitals, circulation, ventilation, fluid, electrolyte, and acid-base problems. They are further responsible for recognizing complications and properly intervening to avert or manage those complications. Common complications include depressing the respiratory and cardiovascular systems. If recognition of a complication is delayed, you may have a cause of action for your injuries.

Improper post-surgical practices. An anesthesiologist is responsible for evaluating a patient’s recovery from anesthesia after surgery. Claims for failure to monitor may very well extend to after a patient has ceased receiving doses of the agent. The most common complication experienced during this period is hypoxemia, or insufficient oxygen levels in the blood.

When you put your trust in healthcare professionals, you deserve the care that any other patient would be given. There is no excuse for careless errors when it comes to your health and wellbeing. At Altman & Altman LLP, we have a team of experienced professionals that can provide you with the help you need to hold medical professionals accountable.

Call for a free consultation today at 617.492.3000 or toll-free at 800.481.6199. We are available 24/7.

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