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Have You Been Harmed By An Anesthesia Error?

Most surgeries require the patient to be sedated. The health care provider charged with the task of sedating the patient is typically an anesthesiologist or nurse anesthetist. Carelessness in the administration of anesthesia can have catastrophic results for the patient.

At Garau Germano, P.C., we represent patients who have been injured due to anesthesia errors or due to the negligent actions of an anesthesiologist. Our Indianapolis medical malpractice attorneys strive to win maximum compensation on behalf of these individuals. Contact us online or call 317-978-9973 to discuss your case in a free consultation.

Types Of Anesthesia Malpractice

Malpractice in the administration of anesthesia can occur in many ways. The anesthesiologist must first make sure that the patient is an appropriate candidate for anesthesia. While administering the anesthesia, the anesthesiologist or nurse anesthetist is required to carefully monitor the patient’s vital signs to make sure that the anesthesia is not significantly impairing the patient’s ability to breathe or maintain a heartbeat.

Failure to properly monitor the vital signs or to promptly take corrective action when the vital signs indicate that the patient is in danger can result in brain damage (anoxic brain injury) or death. The anesthesiologist must also take reasonable care in positioning the patient before and during the operation. If a patient is improperly positioned, the patient may awaken from the procedure with a permanent and debilitating nerve injury.

What Are The Causes Of Anesthesia Errors?

Anesthesia is one of the most safety-critical and precise areas of modern medicine. These doctors administer drugs to render people unconscious and diminish or eliminate their sensation of pain. Anesthesia is crucial for the success of many modern treatments, but it comes with its own risks.

Small adjustments in one direction or another could be the difference between a safe recovery and an injury to the patient. The anesthesiologists who render people unconscious and minimize their pain sensations require the same years of training that other medical doctors receive and must complete specialized internships to move into this high-demand and high-risk area of medical practice.

Despite all of the oversight and educational support for anesthesiologists, they still occasionally make mistakes that have dire consequences for their patients. Anesthesia mistakes are a leading cause of surgery complications and fatalities.

What Can Go Wrong With Anesthesia?

A review of the issues that directly lead to anesthesia errors shows several categories of causes.

  • Communication errors, such as improper communication between the medical professionals preparing for a procedure, are a common cause of anesthesia mistakes.
  • Technical accidents, such as improper placement of a needle for spinal anesthesia, can lead to problems.
  • Despite the best efforts of the anesthesiologist, limitations caused by therapeutic standards, available resources or diagnostics can result in unusual situations in which patients have adverse reactions to anesthesia.
  • Equipment failures can also lead to poor outcomes for patients, as medical professionals rely on machinery to deliver anesthesia safely and to track the condition of the patient receiving treatment.
  • The final category of identified causes of anesthesia errors involves improper oversight. Residents studying to become anesthesiologists can make preventable mistakes when the licensed professional overseeing their residency does not catch a mistake.

Examples of some of the anesthesiology malpractice cases handled by the lawyers at Garau Germano, P.C., include:

  • An anesthesiologist fails to properly monitor the patient’s blood pressure during a heart surgery and fails to promptly take corrective action when the blood pressure drops. The patient suffers an anoxic brain injury and subsequently dies.
  • An anesthesiologist reuses a syringe during an operation, exposing the patient to the possibility of bloodborne diseases such as HIV/AIDS and hepatitis.
  • An oral surgeon fails to appropriately assess whether his patient is an appropriate candidate for the administration of anesthesia in an office setting, resulting in the patient’s cardiac arrest and subsequent death.

Frequently Asked Questions About Anesthesia Errors

While anesthesia is indispensable in modern medical procedures, ensuring optimal dosage and management is vital to patient safety. Here are some of the frequently asked questions on anesthesia errors.

How much anesthesia is too much?

Every patient is unique. Anesthesiologists have to take into consideration, at minimum, the type of medical procedure that is to be performed and the patient’s age, gender and weight. They may also need to consider other factors in a patient’s medical history, including prior difficulties with anesthesia or intubation, drug allergies and more. In addition, anesthesiologists have to carefully monitor patients during procedures for signs that they are receiving too much anesthesia.

What are the effects of too much anesthesia?

When the body receives more anesthesia than it requires, it can disrupt its natural body functions and cause unintended consequences. Patients under anesthesia may experience:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Confusion
  • Bladder problems
  • Sore throat
  • Muscle aches
  • Itching
  • Hallucinations
  • Seizures
  • Delirium
  • Respiratory distress
  • Brain injuries
  • Death

The severity of these effects will depend on the type of anesthesia used, the patient’s individual response to the medication and the duration of the overdose.

What are the signs of serious anesthesia effects?

Some common signs of serious anesthesia side effects include:

  • Respiratory depression: The patient’s breathing becomes significantly shallow or labored
  • Hypotension or low blood pressure: It can result from blood vessels dilating depending on the anesthesia administered
  • Abnormal heart rhythms (arrhythmias): The heart may beat too slowly (bradycardia) or too quickly (tachycardia) or in an irregular pattern
  • Inadequate oxygenation (hypoxemia): Due to the anesthesia reducing the level of oxygen in the blood
  • Although rare, cardiac arrest: The heart receives an electrical disturbance, preventing it from properly pumping blood

Monitoring vital signs such as heart rate, blood pressure and oxygen saturation is crucial to identify and manage serious side effects promptly – before a patient suffers permanent harm.

Get Answers

If you or a loved one has been seriously harmed as a result of an anesthesia error, our Indianapolis anesthesia malpractice attorneys can help. Contact our firm through our website or call us at 317-978-9973.