Even though medical science is more advanced than ever, many things can still go wrong during a medical procedure. Human error is still a common factor behind these failures, and it can occur at any point in an operation or a surgery. One of the major areas where medical mistakes can lead to tragedy is anesthesia.
Not many people realize the risks involved in anesthetics. On the contrary, most of us expect relative comfort, presuming that anesthesiologists and related medical providers know the best way to manage our pain during operations. But when these professionals act incompetently or make a careless mistake, the result can be tremendous suffering for the patient.
If you believe that an anesthesiologist, doctor, or medical staff caused harm to you or a loved one, you may be able to make a medical malpractice claim. The compensation and the sense of justice you may obtain can be a significant relief from the suffering that you experienced from the incident. Talk to us at Kassel McVey for clear answers to your legal questions and reliable legal service that’s highly trusted in South Carolina.
Anesthesia Errors – Common And Serious
Every year, anesthetic drugs are administered about 40 million times in the United States, according to the American Society of Anesthesiologists. This is not entirely surprising as anesthesia is used in a great variety of procedures, from simple dental work to lifesaving surgeries.
What’s surprising are the many cases where anesthetics cause complications and even deaths. A seven-year study found that anesthesia causes 34 deaths and contributes to another 281 deaths each year in the US. From 1999 to 2005, a total of 2,211 patient deaths throughout the country were anesthesia-related.
The researchers of the study, who were top doctors from Columbia University and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, categorized the anesthesia-related deaths by cause: complications during pregnancy and labor, anesthetic overdose, adverse effects of anesthetics in therapeutic use, and other complications. They found that the top cause of these deaths was anesthetic overdose.
Outside of this study, there are many known complications and injuries that result from anesthesia errors. These effects vary widely, including:
- Dizziness or confusion
- Eyesight impairment
- Abnormal pulse
- Abnormal spike or drop in blood pressure
- Birth defects
- Breathing problems
- Lung or heart infection
- Cardiovascular collapse
- Brain damage
- Organ damage
These facts and statistics show that there is still plenty of room for improvement in anesthesia safety. In fact, researchers strongly suggest that anesthetic safety should be monitored within and outside operating room settings.
Anesthesia must only be administered by professionals who are sufficiently trained in this specific field. Among these professionals are anesthesiologists, medical doctors with special anesthesia training, and nurse anesthetists. Physician anesthesiologists, for instance, must have 12,000 to 16,000 hours of clinical training on top of 12 to 14 years of education.
Training and experience are crucial among these professionals because their responsibilities have great impact on a patient. Not only are they tasked with providing anesthetic drugs, they must also evaluate the patient’s status before, during, and after anesthesia is administered. Here are some of their specific tasks, to name a few:
Assess the patient’s health history to determine the appropriate anesthetics to use
Determine the appropriate formulation and dosage of anesthetics
Monitor the patient’s response to the anesthesia delivered
Ensure that the levels of consciousness are maintained during the procedure
Monitor the patient’s vital signs during unconsciousness
Promptly address any side effect of anesthetics
Determine whether the patient has recovered from the effects of anesthetics.
Unfortunately, many errors have been found to occur while anesthesiologists are performing these duties. Some of these anesthesia mistakes include:
- Failing to properly assess the patient’s medical history
- Failing to instruct patient on pre-anesthesia care (such as limiting food or liquid intake)
- Providing too little or ineffective anesthetics, causing “anesthesia awareness”, a condition where the patient is awake but unable to move during a procedure
- Failing to address the interactions of anesthetics with other medications
- Administering the incorrect anesthetic drug, formulation, or dosage
- Delayed anesthesia delivery
- Defective devices in administering anesthetics
- Failing to monitor or respond to failing vital signs
When a critical mistake like these happens, the patient may experience more physical harm and incur greater medical bills. In worst-case situations, the patient ends up in a coma or gets killed, leaving the family with unimaginable suffering.
Do You Have A Malpractice Case?
It can be very challenging for patients and families to pursue a medical malpractice claim against an anesthesiologist. An anesthesia error can be difficult to identify and even more difficult to prove. Further, it has to be established that this anesthetic mistake was the cause of the patient’s suffering.
Not all undesired outcomes in medicine are due to malpractice. This is why claimants have to establish the essential elements of a malpractice case – otherwise, the medical professionals in question may be able to deny responsibility.
All this may sound daunting, but many individuals and families have succeeded in their claims with the help of effective lawyers.
If you suspect that something went wrong during your medical procedure, don’t hesitate to consult with us at Kassel McVey. We’ll provide a free consultation where we can talk about your experience and advise you on your legal options.
Our attorneys have decades of successful experience in medical malpractice cases, obtaining large sums for numerous South Carolinians. Our team’s skills and aggressiveness in representing our clients are backed by expert opinion from our network of medical specialists. These, combined with our own thorough research and creative strategies, make each of our cases robust and primed for success.
Contact Kassel McVey
Do you believe that a medical provider made a serious anesthesia error on you or a loved one? You will want to act as soon as possible, because South Carolina has a “Statute of Limitations” that sets deadlines on medical malpractice lawsuits.
Call (803) 256-4242 today for a free case evaluation.
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Post Office Box 1476
Columbia, South Carolina 29202
Fax: (803) 256-1952
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