Anesthesia refers to the drugs administered during surgical procedures or for mothers in labor to either reduce/numb pain, or to completely sedate patients.
There are three basic types of anesthesia:
- Local anesthesia --A drug or spray is given to numb a small area of the body such as your gums during tooth extraction or drilling. It only lasts a short time and is used mostly in outpatient procedures.
- Regional anesthesia --A larger area of the body in numbed such as the lower waist in women by use of an epidural during labor.
- General anesthesia--A drug is given intravenously or inhaled and the patient is asleep during the procedure and unaware of his or her surroundings.
Accidents that occur during a procedure due to anesthesia can be life altering; sometimes even resulting in death. Errors made by an anesthesiologist may be due to negligence on their part or another member of the medical staff and responsible parties can be held liable for their actions.
Common Results of Anesthesia Injuries include:
- Hypoxic-anoxic injury
- Nerve damage
- Brain injury
- Organ failure
Types of Accidents
When anesthetic medications are injected into a nerve, if administered improperly, the nerve tissue can sustain damage. This can lead to serious complications such as a spinal cord injury during an epidural.
Improper dosage of a drug can lead to a slower heart rate and lack of oxygen to the brain. Similarly, under-sedation can lead to a semi-conscious patient or one who wakes during the operation and experiences intense pain or moves around, jeopardizing the procedure and causing serious complications.
Here is a more comprehensive list briefly detailing the most common causes for anesthesia accidents:
- Improper dosage
- Improper intubation
- Failure to monitor
- Failure to resuscitate
- Mechanical failure
- Allergic reactions
Hospitals and physicians are held to certain standards of care. An anesthesiologist or nurse anesthetist are responsible for administering anesthetics and are obligated to monitor you during the procedure in case of respiratory problems, allergic reactions, equipment malfunction, or other abnormalities.
If there is leakage or an equipment breakdown, it is possible that the manufacturer of the equipment could be held liable if there was a defect in its design or manufacture.
An injury from an anesthesia error can leave a patient with disabling and permanent injuries that may require years of costly physical therapy, psychological counseling and other rehabilitation measures. A brain injury may leave the patient in a coma or lead to severely impaired cognitive or physical abilities. This can obviously impact a victim’s lifestyle, relationships, employment and income.
A victim of an anesthesia accident can recover compensation for past
and future medical expenses, loss of earnings, loss of earning
capacity, loss of consortium, and pain and suffering.
Steps to Take
It may be obvious to you or to your family that something went awry during an operation, although you may not be told directly of the cause. Do not accept any vague explanations or any shirking of responsibility by medical staff or physicians. You will want to have someone vested in your best interest examining the case and protecting your rights.
An anesthesia accident attorney, or medical malpractice attorney, can order and review all of your surgical and medical records and have them analyzed by a medical expert to fully investigate your case and potentially support a claim for just compensation.
Contact an Attorney
Anesthesia injury cases are complex. There are issues of liability, evidence, and expert medical testimony that only an experienced anesthesia accident lawyer can handle to ensure that you receive the compensation and care your case deserves.
These matters are time sensitive, however. If you or someone you love has been injured as a result of anesthesia we want to hear your story. Our experienced medical malpractice attorneys will review the facts and assist you with your case from beginning to end. We know how to investigate and aggressively pursue malpractice cases and we will fight for your rights.