Anesthesia Errors and Injuries
For many people, the most frightening part of having surgery is the idea of being put under general anesthesia. General anesthesia puts patients in an unconscious or semi-conscious state, allowing the patient to feel no pain during the procedure. Although anesthesia today is very low-risk – only 1 out of 200,000 or 300,000 patients die from anesthesia complications– sometimes mistakes occur that lead to devastating injuries or death.
Common Causes of Anesthesia Injuries
Anesthesia-related injuries can arise from a variety of causes. Frequently, they occur because the anesthesiologist made a mistake in dosage or provided the wrong medication. Other common causes include:
- failing to identify risk factors in the patient’s medical history, including allergies to certain anesthesias or components of anesthesia
- delayed anesthesia delivery
- failing to respond to distress or warning signals in a timely manner
- failing to monitor the patient properly during surgery
- administering anesthesia contraindicated for patients taking certain prescription medications
- the use of defective medical equipment
- the incorrect use of medical equipment
Consequences of Anesthesia Errors
Errors relating to anesthesia can result in catastrophic injuries. The nature of the injury depends upon both the type of error made during the procedure and the medical team’s response to the error. Anesthesia-related injuries include:
- Permanent or temporary respiratory damage
- Loss of bodily function
- Brain damage
- Cardiovascular injury, including heart attack or stroke
- Emotional trauma, as when the patient awakens during surgery
- Birth defects
- Spinal cord injury
How to Lower the Risk of Anesthesia Errors
Once you’ve “gone under” you have no choice but to trust in the skill, knowledge and experience of your anesthesiologist and medical team. That’s why before your procedure, you should take certain steps to ensure that you’re comfortable with your doctor and have minimized the chance of an anesthesia error happening to you. In particular, you should:
- Ask to meet with your anesthesiologist. Talking to the doctor responsible for administering the anesthesia can help reassure you of his or her credentials, give you the opportunity to raise concerns, and discuss any allergies or health conditions that could create complications.
- Ask your doctor whether there is an alternative to anesthesia. In some cases, general anesthesia is not always necessary. A local or spinal anesthesia may suffice.
- Be honest about your medical history. If you conceal part of your medical history, you could be withholding information that your anesthesiologist needs to decide which medications are safest and most effective for you.
When to Contact a Massachusetts Anesthesia Error Injury Lawyer
If you or someone you love has suffered an injury due to an error in anesthesia, don’t delay in contacting an experienced Massachusetts anesthesia injury lawyer. A qualified lawyer can collect and sift through the medical evidence to determine the type of error that caused your anesthesia-related injuries, and assess who should be held responsible.
If the facts indicate that your injuries were likely caused by a compensable anesthesia-related error, a lawyer can help you file a lawsuit against the culpable party – no matter whether doctor, hospital, and/or medical equipment manufacturer – to obtain full and fair compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
Peter Ventura is a Massachusetts medical malpractice lawyer dedicated to helping Massachusetts residents receive compensation for injuries caused by anesthesia-related errors. Contact us or Call for a free consultation today at 508-755-7535.