Anesthesia Errors: Medical Malpractice Causing Too Many Preventable Deaths and Injuries

Every year between 44,000 to 98,000 people die from medical errors, and a large number of these are medication related. Deaths, cardiac arrests and brain injuries from anesthesia errors are more common than you think, but they are simply not as frequently reported on as they should be.

When anesthesiologists observe the standard of care in carrying out an anesthesia protocol on a patient, the patient will usually be fine. But if there is an anesthesia mistake or an anesthesia error, it can cause a patient serious injury, and even death. Some of the injuries patients sustain are anoxic brain injury, brain damage, coma, paralysis, nerve damage, and cardiac arrest. These injuries are usually completely preventable, and the person responsible should be held accountable for the seriousness of their mistake.

Types of Anesthesia Errors

There are many reasons why anesthesia errors happen. Some of them include:

  • Inadequate experience
  • Inadequate familiarity with equipment or devices
  • Carelessness or lack of attention
  • Bad communication with the rest of the medical team
  • Fatigue
  • Failure in proper supervision
  • Distraction
  • Improper intubation
  • Giving insufficient oxygen
  • Poor labeling of drugs
  • Lack of staff
  • Working overtime or irregular hours
  • Look alike, sound alike drugs
  • Failure of drug dosing and administration

Several kinds of drugs may be administered to a surgery patient. Some of them include propofol, pentothal sodium, ketamine, depolarizing and non-polarizing muscle relaxants, narcotics, sedatives, anticholinergics, inotropes, local anesthetics, analgesics, potassium chloride, magnesium sulphate, and anti-coagulants like heparin.

During major surgery, three types of drugs are typically given to a patient: drugs to put someone under, painkillers, and paralytics to prevent patients from moving during the surgery. One under-reported problem that happens is when there is an administration error in anesthesia to keep someone under. The person can regain awareness, seeing and hearing what is going on, but they will be unable to move or tell anyone they are conscious. This can cause serious trauma to patients afterward, who can understandably develop fears of hospitals, doctors, and surgery.

Anatomy of an Anesthesia Error Case

Proving that a patient suffered from an anesthesia error should be handled by a seasoned legal professional who understands what it takes to put on a strong case. Medical malpractice cases can become complex and require a great deal of fact-finding, discovery, and legal analysis. Medical records and documents will be absolutely key. It is not unheard of for medical professionals to try to cover up their tracks after the fact and change records. This makes it more difficult to get a handle on the truth, which is why an experienced Cleveland, Ohio medical malpractice attorney who knows what the common pitfalls are is absolutely necessary. Medical experts will be needed to testify as to the standard of care applicable for the particular situation at hand. A good attorney will be adept at cross-examining the other side’s experts and making sure an expert’s basis for their opinion stands up in court.

Attorney Tom Robenalt is an experienced, compassionate advocate who will fight for his clients to get them the compensation they deserve. Robenalt has experience investigated claims against large hospital systems including the Cleveland Clinic and University Hospitals of Cleveland. Dealing with a medical malpractice case, on top of serious injuries, can feel overwhelming, so rest easier knowing that you don’t pay a fee unless your case is successful. If you or a loved one is the victim of an anesthesia error, contact our Ohio personal injury law firm today at (216) 223-7535 or fill out our online form for a free, confidential consultation.

Categories: Medical Malpractice