According to a recent study, approximately 400,000 patients die each year as a result of medical malpractice. A number of these deaths occur during surgery due to anesthesia mistakes such as medication errors, but some occur because a doctor neglects to give his or her patient important information afterward. If you were severely injured or a family member died as a result of someone else’s negligence, you have a right to be compensated. For a free consultation, contact Cleveland anesthesia attorney Tom Robenalt today.
Common Anesthesia Mistakes
The Institute of Medicine’s now-infamous “To Err Is Human” report said medication mistakes happen so frequently in the medical field that they’re “the seventh most common cause of death overall.” During a survey of 2,266 anesthesiologists, 30 percent admitted to making one. During another survey, 89 percent of respondents admitted to administering the wrong drug or the wrong dosage at some point in their career. A review of 27,454 surgical procedures performed between 1999 and 2007 found that more than 230 medication mistakes occurred as a result of overdosing the patient or substituting the wrong drug.
How does this happen?
“Induction agents like pentothal sodium, ketamine, depolarizing and non-depolarizing muscle relaxants, narcotic and sedatives, anticholinergics, and local anesthetics have been given wrongly either due to misidentification, wrong labeling, syringe swap, or exchange with another drug because of inattention or haste,” said a study published in the Journal of Anaesthesiology Clinical Pharmacology.
Other potential problems include:
- Inadequate staffing;
- Fatigued staff members who work too many hours; and
- Medication problems such as look- or sound-alike drugs, confusing labels, unlabeled syringes, and incorrect dosage calculations.
Forty-two percent of mistakes happen mid-anesthesia, 28 percent happen during induction, and 17 percent happen at the beginning of the operation, per researchers.
Hypoxic Brain Injury and Death
Many people have suffered hypoxic brain injury or death after an anesthesia mistake. According to one study, “[T]he incidence of [medical malpractice] claims involving the respiratory system has diminished since the introduction of pulse oximetry and capnography, but hypoxic brain damage and death resulting from failure to ventilate the lungs do still occur and, arguably, are even more culpable if appropriate monitors have not been used, or if the information which they provide has been ignored.”
Potential Problems Between Surgeon and Anesthesiologist
“Surgeon and anesthesiologist are the key players in the operating room (OR), aiming for a common goal – safety and good outcome for patient,” said one study. “Quality communication is perhaps the key for everyone to remain focused on the goal.”
Unfortunately, as doctors told Becker’s Healthcare, problems sometimes occur in the OR for the following reasons:
- Conflict. The surgeon may want the patient’s blood pressure at a certain level, but the anesthesiologist may think that lowering his or her blood pressure would put the patient at risk;
- Scheduling. It’s the anesthesiologist’s job to make sure that a patient is fit for surgery. If the patient’s condition changes before the operation, the anesthesiologist may suggest delaying or canceling the procedure.
Lack of Communication Between Doctor and Patient
A study published in the Journal of Patient Safety said one patient died “when cardiologists failed to warn their 19-year-old patient not to run. The patient had experienced syncope while running, and five days of inpatient, diagnostic testing were inconclusive; however, his cardiologists knew he was not ready to return to running but failed to warn him against this risk. Having not been warned against running, he resumed running and died three weeks later while running.”
Do You Have Questions About an Anesthesia Error?
As one study said, “Anesthesiologists are one of the few groups of physicians who are personally responsible for drug administration.” If yours made a mistake that resulted in a serious injury, contact the Cleveland anesthesia attorneys at The Robenalt Law Firm today. We offer free consultations to discuss your potential claim, and we take cases on a contingency fee basis. If we don’t recover damages for you, we won’t charge you for legal fees. Ohio places a time limit on potential claims, so contact us today by calling (216) 223-7535, emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, or filling out our online form.