Anesthesia Risks: Errors and Injuries

Doctors with anesthetic mask

Many modern surgical procedures are performed under anesthesia. Despite that the use during surgery is so common, few people give anesthesia risks a second thought. However, if an anesthesia error does occur, the results can be catastrophic.

What Is an Anesthesiologist and What Do They Do?

An anesthesiologist is a medical doctor (M.D. or D.O.) who is specially trained to work with surgeons to administer anesthesia during surgery. To avoid anesthesia risks, the anesthesiologist must skillfully administer anesthesia with care and precision. During surgery, the anesthesiologist must carefully monitor the patient and respond appropriately to any changes in the patient’s condition. After surgery, the anesthesiologist should continue to monitor the patient’s breathing, heart rate, blood pressure, circulation, and oxygen levels as the anesthesia wears off. While most surgeries are completed without any ill effects, anesthesia errors occur far too often.

There are four general types of anesthesia:

  • Local anesthesia - a one-time injection that numbs a small area of the body to prevent pain during surgery. The patient remains awake, but should not feel pain at the injection site. This type of anesthesia is used when a mole is removed, a broken bone is being set, or when stitching a deep cut. Local anesthesia may also be used in conjunction with a sedative to calm the patient and reduce stress during a surgical procedure.
  • Regional anesthesia - medication is administered to numb a large part of the body. The patient is awake, but will not be able to feel the area that is numbed. Common examples of regional anesthesia are spinal blocks and epidurals, which are often used during childbirth and surgeries performed on the arms, legs, or abdomen.
  • Monitored anesthesia or IV sedation - medication makes the patient feel relaxed and hovering between various levels of consciousness. A patient may feel drowsy but still able to talk, or be in a deeper state of sedation so that they will not remember the procedure. IV sedation is often used for minimally invasive procedures such as a colonoscopy.
  • General anesthesia - medicine is administered through a mask or an IV placed in the vein that makes the patient unconscious. Many bodily functions will slow down or need help to work effectively. A patient may have a tube placed in the throat to assist with breathing, and the anesthesiologist must monitor the patient’s heart rate, blood pressure, breathing rate, and other vital signs to ensure that the patient remains stable while unconscious and pain-free. Once the surgical procedure is complete, the anesthesiologist will reverse the process and help the patient regain consciousness while continuing to monitor the patient’s breathing, heart rate, blood pressure, circulation, and oxygen levels.

Regardless of the type of anesthesia administered, the anesthesiologist must take care to monitor the patient to ensure that there are no injuries or complications as the anesthesia wears off.

What Are Common Side Effects of Anesthesia?

Side effects after surgery with anesthesia are common and may include:

  • Headaches
  • Vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Muscle twitching
  • Blurred vision
  • Continuing numbness, weakness, or tingling

Most symptoms resolve quickly. But if you have lingering symptoms after surgery or believe you suffered an anesthesia injury during surgery, you should seek medical attention immediately.

What Are Anesthesia Risks During Surgery?

Anesthesia malpractice occurs when anesthesiologists or other medical providers make mistakes with anesthesia. These mistakes can lead to serious injuries or even wrongful death.

Common anesthesia risks during surgery include:

  • Failure to properly monitor a surgical patient
  • Failure to properly administer oxygen during surgery
  • Failure to timely respond to oxygenation or anesthesia problems
  • Administering too much anesthesia
  • Administering too little anesthesia
  • Harmful drug interactions with anesthesia
  • Allergic reaction to anesthesia

Injuries that can be caused by improper administration of anesthesia include:

Anesthesia errors can cause serious, life-changing injuries that can lead to physical, emotional, and financial hardship. In the most severe cases, an anesthesia error can lead to wrongful death. If you were injured or someone you love died during surgery due to an anesthesia error, it is important that you act quickly. An experienced anesthesia error attorney can help, but you have a short amount of time to act.

If you were injured or someone you love was killed because of an anesthesia error, you or your family might be entitled to compensation for:

  • Past and future medical bills
  • Costs of rehabilitation
  • Long-term disability
  • Loss of past and future wages
  • Pain and suffering
  • The cost of Long-term care
  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Loss of companionship
  • Funeral and burial expenses

In Ohio, anesthesia errors are considered medical malpractice and are subject to a one-year statute of limitations. If you do not file a lawsuit within one year after the anesthesia error injury you will be forever barred from seeking compensation.

Robenalt Law Fights for Victims of Anesthesia Errors

If you were injured or someone you loved was killed because of an anesthesia error, contact the Ohio medical malpractice attorneys at Robenalt Law today. We have the experience, resources, and expertise to analyze your case, and fight for the compensation that you and your family deserve.

Learn why clients choose us and get answers to Frequently Asked Questions, then contact us today to schedule a free, confidential consultation to review your case.

Tom Robenalt started his litigation career representing doctors and hospitals at a large firm in Cleveland. For the past 25 years, he has used that experience to help the families of people who have been injured or killed by negligent health care providers.

Categories: Medical Malpractice

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