Anesthesia Errors and Malpractice

Anesthesia Errors and Malpractice
Anesthesia Errors and Malpractice

Anesthesia plays a crucial role in ensuring patient comfort and safety during medical procedures. However, when errors occur in the administration or monitoring of anesthesia, serious consequences can arise. In some cases, these errors can lead to medical malpractice lawsuits.

Throughout their career, an anesthesiologist will administer roughly half a million drugs. They must be make no mistakes in the drug selection or dosage. Even a slight mistake can cause permanent injury and even worse. Unfortunately, far too many anesthesia errors happen nationwide in operating rooms and surgical centers.

Anesthesia errors make up 2.7 percent of medical malpractice cases. Given the severe impacts of an anesthesia mistake, these can be very complex cases worth a lot of money. If you have been the victim of an anesthesia error, and the doctor was the cause of your injury, you may be eligible for financial compensation.

First, you must file a lawsuit, which can result in a large settlement or jury award should you win.

Make your first call to an experienced medical malpractice attorney who can represent you in the legal process. Your lawyer will handle all the details of your case, from the initial investigation to the trial, should your case go that far.

It is virtually impossible to achieve a successful result in a medical malpractice case with the help of an experienced attorney. You must go through an extensive legal process, which can include a case in front of a jury. Call a medical malpractice lawyer today to discuss your case.

The Purposes of Anesthesia During Surgery 

Anesthesia Drugs

Anesthesia is a drug or combination of drugs that act as a pain blocker during surgery or other medical procedures. There are different types of anesthesia.

For less invasive procedures, the doctor may use a more localized drug that numbs the area while the patient remains awake.

For more intensive procedures, the doctor may opt for general anesthesia that puts a patient completely to sleep. You are rendered unconscious and unable to feel what is happening to your body.

The doctor may choose the type and amount of anesthesia based on your overall health and the particular surgery that you are undergoing.

The anesthesiologist is generally present during your surgery, monitoring your condition to see whether any adjustments are necessary to protect your health, keep you sedated, and improve your chances of surviving the surgery.

Anesthesiologists Have a Difficult Job

The anesthesiologist literally has your life in their hands. They must figure out the proper amount and mix of drugs to keep you asleep throughout the surgery. Even a small mistake can have drastic implications for the patient.

Anesthesiologists need to monitor the patient at all times. They may have to make quick judgments based on changes in the patient's vital signs during the surgery and how they respond to the anesthesia. The surgeon makes decisions throughout the procedure, and the anesthesiologist must constantly communicate with the surgeon.

Being an anesthesiologist is a challenging job. There is a lot of pressure and stress, and these doctors must be on at all times. If they are not up to the job on a particular day, you or a loved one may pay the price.

Common Anesthesia Errors

Any type of error involving anesthesia can be critical and life-threatening.

Doctors can make the following errors that put you or a loved one at risk:

  • Choosing the wrong type of anesthesia for your procedure (either the overall type or the combination of drugs they administer)
  • Administering anesthesia incorrectly, such that you wake up during the procedure
  • Administering the wrong dosage of anesthesia
  • Keeping you sedated for far too long
  • Giving you a type of anesthesia that provokes a severe allergic reaction
  • Failure to account for adverse medication reactions
  • Failure to properly monitor the patient during surgery

Anesthesia errors can have long-term health consequences. Thousands of patients die each year in the United States due to malpractice committed by anesthesiologists.

Causes of Anesthesia Errors

Causes of Anesthesia Errors

Anesthesiologists work under great stress, but that is not an excuse for making an error. The average doctor should receive training to allow them to properly administer anesthesia to patients so that they can emerge from the surgery without any complications from the sedatives.

However, doctors may make mistakes for several reasons, including:

  • Failure to properly review the patient's medical records before the procedure
  • Failure to communicate with other medical professionals on the care team
  • Disregarding data points that the doctor learns during the surgery
  • Not having the right professionals or those who lack proper training monitoring the patient during the procedure
  • Lack of appropriate experience and training
  • Not understanding the medical equipment that they are using during the surgery

Regardless of the reason for the mistake, you can hold the doctor or medical professional legally accountable by filing a malpractice lawsuit against them.

Under the circumstances, the doctor must act as a reasonable medical professional with ordinary training. An experienced medical malpractice attorney can help you learn the cause of the mistake and take legal action as necessary.

Injuries from Anesthesia Errors

Anesthesia errors can cause grave effects, including death.

Common injuries from anesthesia mistakes include:

  • Nerve injury because the doctor did not correctly numb the area
  • Emotional distress because you woke up during the surgery and experienced shocked
  • Perforated trachea due to the way that the doctor inserted the tube into the patient's throat
  • Brain damage because the doctor administered the wrong amount of sedation (usually a dosage far over the required amount)
  • Spinal cord injuries when the doctor administered anesthesia improperly
  • Respiratory and cardiac arrest from too much anesthesia

Many of these injuries can be severe and lead to considerable financial compensation when you can prove that the doctor was negligent. However, you must go beyond simply proving that you or a loved one ran into complications during the surgery, as often happens.

How to File a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit

Medical Malpractice Lawsuits

The first step to filing a medical malpractice lawsuit is to hire an experienced attorney who has previously handled these types of cases. Medical malpractice lawsuits can take considerable time. Not every attorney can handle a medical malpractice case because they may lack the knowledge and resources to do a credible job.

Once you hire an attorney, they will work on your behalf. They will review your medical records and work with expert witnesses to understand how and where the error occurred.

Then, your attorney will draft the lawsuit complaint that explains how and why the doctor made a mistake. They will need to describe the complaint in enough detail that your case can proceed through the court process. You will begin to build your case once you progress to the discovery process.

How to Win a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit

The success of your medical malpractice lawsuit depends on whether you can prove that the medical professional was negligent.

Sometimes, something goes wrong during the surgical procedure, and nobody is necessarily responsible for it. Bad results can happen during the surgery, but not every suboptimal outcome is the grounds for a medical malpractice lawsuit.

Doctors must exercise the care that a medical professional of reasonable training would under the circumstances. Surgeries are not always successful, but a reasonable doctor does not make mistakes that injure their patients.

Doctors do not have to be 100 percent perfect in everything they do, but certain mistakes go beyond what is acceptable and can lead to financial compensation.

The challenge is proving that the doctor failed to exercise the reasonable care expected of them. You have to go back to the operating room, which can be challenging when the doctor and hospital are trying to stonewall and keep you from learning what happened. In addition, juries usually trust doctors and give them the benefit of the doubt, so you will need hard evidence to overcome any personal presumptions that a juror may have.

Your attorney can get medical records that include notes about what the doctor did during the procedure. They can also question the doctors under oath during a deposition, where they can hear from the medical professional in their own words.

Then, your doctor can work with an expert witness who can give their opinion of what they would have done and what mistake the doctor may have made.

Ultimately, the success of your case may come down to expert witness testimony, which needs to be credible and persuasive. An experienced medical malpractice attorney has a roster of experts they work with, and they can select the right one for your lawsuit.

Damages in an Anesthesia Medical Malpractice Lawsuit

Damages & Compensation

Given the extent of your possible injuries from an anesthesia injury, your medical malpractice damages can be considerable.

The responsible party must fully compensate you for all you have suffered, regardless of whether your losses are financial or non-economic.

Your medical malpractice lawsuit damages can include:

If the doctor's actions were highly careless or reckless, the jury can choose to punish them even further. Doctors and hospitals sometimes must pay punitive damages that can significantly increase the size of your award.

You will not get punitive damages in a settlement agreement but may receive them when you win at trial. The fact that the defendant may owe you punitive damages may get them to sing a different tune during settlement negotiations.

Juries may award millions or more when angered by what the defendant did, and the other party may know they are in a precarious position.

Your medical malpractice case may take considerable time from start to finish, even those that do not go to trial.

The court has lengthy timeframes, including the time they allot to the discovery process. It can take more than one year for your case to even go to trial, and if you win your case, you can expect that the defendant will file an appeal, which can delay things even more.

Still, most medical malpractice cases will settle before you reach a trial, especially when you can build a strong case in the discovery process.

Call an attorney today to represent you in the lawsuit process. Your lawyer needs time to investigate and build the case before you can file the lawsuit. You also want peace of mind knowing you have a potentially strong case for significant compensation.

Emroch & Kilduff Personal Injury Attorneys in Richmond and Tappahannock Virgina

Medical malpractice attorneys get paid the same way. They all work for clients on a contingency basis, meaning their paycheck only comes upon the receivement of a settlement or jury award.

Your attorney is taking a leap of faith when they accept your case. You can expect them to review the facts before they decide to represent you. An attorney will spend hundreds or even thousands of hours on your case, and they will get nothing if you do not receive compensation.

At the same time, you never have to pay an attorney upfront or out of your own pocket. Thus, you do not have to go without legal help because you do not have any available funds to pay an attorney.

In anesthesia malpractice cases, it is crucial to act promptly. Statutes of limitations restrict the time within which you can file a lawsuit, and evidence may deteriorate or become difficult to obtain as time passes. Consulting an attorney as soon as possible will ensure they protect your rights and increase your chances of a successful outcome.

Don't suffer in silence. If you or a loved one has experienced harm due to an anesthesia error, reach out to a qualified personal injury attorney today. They will provide the guidance and representation you need to seek justice and hold responsible parties accountable. Remember, you don't have to face this challenging situation alone.

William B. Kilduff


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