As hospital patients, it’s likely we may find some procedures overwhelming or even unnerving. The most unnerving procedures are often the ones where anesthesia is involved. Even with continuous medical advancements, anesthesiologists make mistakes. If you’ve been a victim of such an event, our Philadelphia anesthesia error lawyers are prepared to get you the compensation you deserve.
While there are general complications associated with anesthesia, there are certain complications that can be avoided if the medical professional follows protocol and correctly administers the anesthesia. If you or a loved one have experienced the consequences of such an error, it’s likely you have questions regarding your legal rights and options. At Shrager & Sachs, we have answers.
Types of Anesthesia
If you are undergoing any procedure that requires anesthesia, it’s important to understand which type will be used. The possibility of mistakes can vary depending on the type of anesthesia used.
General Anesthesia. This type of anesthesia carries a higher risk of complications than other types. It is used for complex procedures. The patient is given different drugs to make them unconscious and immobile. They will not sense or feel the procedure being performed. Patients are usually intubated.
Local Anesthesia. When a patient is locally anesthetized, they typically receive an injection to numb a specific area on the body. Simple procedures, like applying stiches, use this type.
Regional Anesthesia. Similar to local anesthesia, regional blocks pain sensations from a specific area of the body. It’s different because it blocks a cluster of nerves, so the numbed area is larger. An example would be an epidural used during labor and delivery.
Conscious Sedation. If a person needs to have a broken bone set or dislocation fixed, they may be administered drugs for a conscious sedation. The patient will be conscious, but relaxed and less aware of the procedure they’re about to undergo.
Common Anesthesia Mistakes and Consequences
Anesthesia mistakes are often the result of improper training, fatigue, or carelessness. While some mistakes can be quickly remedied, other can be potentially life-changing. The following mistakes are the most common patients are forced to endure.
Improper Anesthesia Dosage. A patient may receive too much or too little anesthesia. If someone receives an overdose, they may have issues waking up or may suffer from cardiac arrest or brain damage. If they receive too little, a potential complication is anesthesia awareness. When this happens, a patient may wake up during surgery and experience pain. The patient could also develop post-traumatic stress disorder, as a result.
Failure to Monitor Patient. While sedated, a patient’s heart rate, respiratory rate, and blood pressure should be monitored properly. If they are not watched, they may experience complications or reactions that could have been prevented.
Improper Administering. The anesthesiologist needs to determine the proper drug concoction to administer to a patient. This may be based on the scheduled procedure and the patient’s age, weight, gender, and medical history. Complications can quickly arise if the drugs are administered incorrectly.
Inadequately Monitoring Oxygen Levels and Delivery. Too much anesthesia can affect how much oxygen a patient takes in while sedated. If their oxygen levels aren’t properly monitored or the pulse oximeter is accidently turned off, brain damage is possible.
Failing to Give Proper Instructions. Part of the anesthesiologist’s job is to inform the patient of the risks associated with being sedated, as well as give them detailed instructions to follow to reduce the chance of complications. If a patient isn’t given instructions on how to prepare, such as a food intake schedule, they may experience problems.
Not Monitoring the Patient During Surgery. During long procedures, the anesthesiologist is responsible for ensuring the patient is moved periodically to prevent nerve damage to the eyes and other body parts. If the specialist is not aware of this or does not do it, surgical errors and injuries can result.
While many of the errors listed above can lead to physical injuries, a patient is also likely to experience piling medical expenses after an anesthesia error. They may need additional treatments or have an extended recovery time, causing them to miss work for longer than expected. With the right anesthesia error lawyer from Shrager & Sachs, you can seek the compensation you need to ease those financial burdens.
Anesthesia Mistakes and Liability in Pennsylvania
It can be difficult to prove medical negligence; however, the right legal team can help you build a strong case to prove you’re owed justice. It will need to be proven that the healthcare provider failed to exercise the degree of skill and care that would be expected of the typical professional who practices in that specialty. The issue becomes more complex when the anesthesiologist is an independent contractor.
In some cases, the hospital may be liable for your injury. If the specialist is employed by the hospital, the facility can be held accountable for the negligence committed by their employee. If the specialist is an independent contractor, it’s possible the hospital could be held liable for negligent hiring practices. If your injury occurred as a result of anesthesia equipment failure, the facility could be held accountable for neglecting to maintain their equipment.
You do not have an unlimited amount of time to file your malpractice claim. According to the Pennsylvania General Assembly, you have two years to file your lawsuit after sustaining your injury. Determining the start date of the two years can be confusing, which is why you’ll need an attorney who understands the laws.
Seeking Justice With an Anesthesia Error Attorney in Philadelphia, PA
You may be eligible for compensation based on the injuries you sustained from the anesthesia mistake. Filing a claim with our medical malpractice lawyers can lead to that monetary award, as well as prevent future patients from suffering from the same mistakes. Contact our office today to learn how best to proceed.