Anesthesia is used in a number of surgical procedures in order to allow the patient to enter an unconscious or semi-conscious state so he or she does not feel the pain caused by surgery. Anesthesia, when properly administered, is considered safe. However, when anesthesia errors do occur during surgery, the consequences can be absolutely devastating.
While anesthesia errors could occur for a number of reasons, they are often the result of negligence on the part of the anesthesiologist and/or the medical team. Sometimes, these types of serious mistakes could also occur due to incompetence. When an anesthesia error occurs, the medical providers responsible for the patient’s injury or pain and suffering can be held liable under medical malpractice laws.
If you or a loved one has suffered injury or harm as the result of an anesthesia error, you may be able to seek compensation for damages including past and future medical expenses, loss of income, disability, and pain and suffering. The experienced Morgantown West Virginia medical malpractice lawyers at the Robinette Legal Group PLLC help those who have suffered serious injuries because of medical mistakes such as anesthesia errors, recover maximum compensation for their damages and losses. Please contact us for more information about pursuing your legal rights.
West Virginia Anesthesia Errors and Medical Negligence
Each year in the United States, more than 40 million medical procedures are done. The ability to administer anesthesia is, without a doubt, one of the greatest achievements of modern medicine. However, there is still the potential for error. Nearly 251,000 people die each year in the United States due to medical mistakes. In fact, medical errors are the third most common cause of death in the United States, right behind cancer and heart disease.
Here are the most common anesthesia errors that can be prevented:
Medication dosing errors: This is an ongoing concern in hospitals and most frequently occurs in the middle of anesthesia. These types of anesthesia errors are caused by lack of experience, lack of familiarity with the equipment or device, and haste, inattention or carelessness. It is important for anesthesiologists to speak up whenever they are not sure about medication dosing or are unsure about how to use certain medical equipment.
Giving too much anesthesia: This can be an extremely serious mistake. The amount of anesthesia administered depends on a number of factors such as the procedure being performed and the patient’s size. When a patient is given too much anesthesia, he or she may experience complications including problems waking up, cardiac arrest and even brain damage.
Administering too little anesthesia: Giving too little anesthesia can also give rise to serious complications. One potential complication of too little medication is known as “anesthesia awareness.” This involves the patient waking up during surgery and possibly feeling pain. This experience can be so traumatic that some people who do experience anesthesia awareness may develop post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD.
There are several ways to help prevent anesthesia awareness or reduce the risk of this condition. Medical professionals should ask patients about their health including previous problems with anesthesia such as a history of being aware during surgery. Medical professionals should also thoroughly examine the patient’s medications including prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications and herbal supplements. A history of alcohol or drug use may also increase the risk of anesthesia awareness.
Lack of proper monitoring: Anesthesia can have an impact on a patient’s heart rate, breathing and even blood pressure. It is crucial that patients are monitored properly while under anesthesia and as they come out of sedation. When there is no proper monitoring, the patient’s medical team could miss life-threatening complications that may arise.
Failure to manage IV flow: Not regulating intravenous fluid properly can also result in serious complications. It is very important that IV flow rates are set accurately especially when anesthesia is being administered. Fluid overload could result in headaches, high blood pressure, anxiety and even breathing problems for patients. On the other hand, low flow can prevent a patient from reacting to the drug as needed.
Anesthesia Errors and Brain Damage
Anesthesiologists have the responsibility to monitor vital indicators of a patient’s health during surgery such as blood pressure and blood fluid levels. However, if the anesthesiologist is careless or distracted and fails to monitor patients properly, the consequences can be disastrous. When such negligence results in oxygen deprivation or stroke, brain damage could occur.
This could happen when the patient’s blood flow to the brain is not properly monitored. This is the primary job of the anesthesiologist during surgery. There are also circumstances under which anesthesiologists must intubate the patient during surgery. This involves placing a tube into the patient’s trachea to open the airway thereby helping the patient breathe under general anesthesia. However, when the anesthesiologist fails to properly intubate the patient, it could cause oxygen deprivation and brain damage.
Why Do Anesthesia Errors Occur?
Anesthesia errors may occur for a number of reasons including medical negligence due to improper or inadequate training, and incompetence. All anesthesiologists as well as doctors and medical staff who are involved in the process must be properly trained to recognize and avoid common anesthesia errors.
When there is a lack of qualified personnel on the team, errors could occur. Mistakes may also happen because the medical team failed review a patient’s medical history. The patient may have certain risk factors in his or her medical history that may call for caution. In some cases, lack of attention to details such as the patient’s weight may also lead to anesthesia errors.
Seeking Compensation for Your Losses for a Surgical Error in West Virginia
If you or a loved one has suffered injury or death due to surgical errors, particularly anesthesia errors caused by negligence at hospitals such as Ruby Memorial Hospital, Monongalia General (Mon General) Hospital, Mon Health Systems WVU University Health Associates or private clinics in West Virginia, our Morgantown medical malpractice lawyers can help you receive maximum compensation for your injuries, damages and losses.
You may be able to seek damages including but not limited to medical expenses, lost income, hospitalization, permanent injuries, disabilities and past and future pain and suffering. The Robinette Legal Group PLLC represents injured victims and their families in personal injury cases, including those that involve medical negligence, throughout the state of West Virginia. Contact us at 304-594-1800 to find out how we can help you.
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