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Common Injuries Due to Anesthesia Error

Written by AskTheLawyers.com™ on behalf of Kathy McArthur with McArthur Law Firm.

Common Injuries Due to Anesthesia Error
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Anesthesia is an important part of many medical procedures, and is designed to inhibit the sensation of pain during surgery. The doctors responsible for administering anesthesia are called anesthesiologists and it is their job to monitor a patient’s breathing and other vital functions to make sure that all functions are working as they should while the patient is unconscious.

However, there are risks associated with the use of anesthesia. Too much anesthesia could result in a patient’s vital functions becoming inhibited, while not enough anesthesia could result in a patient waking during surgery and/or feeling the pain of the surgery. Both of these experiences are not only traumatic but have the potential to be extremely dangerous and even fatal.

Regardless of whether these errors occur due to a simple mistake or out of intention, anesthesia errors are a serious kind of medical malpractice. When a patient is injured due to mistakes made by the anesthesiologist or those working under the anesthesiologist, the patient is eligible to file a medical malpractice claim to seek compensation for their damages such as medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more.

Common injuries caused by anesthesia errors include but are not limited to the following:

  • Tooth damage
  • Lip, tongue, mouth injuries
  • Tracheal perforation
  • Paralysis of vocal cords
  • Aspiration pneumonia
  • Arrhythmia
  • Stroke
  • Brain damage
  • Nerve damage
  • Oxygen deprivation injuries
  • Death
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia

Intubations/extubation and inadequate patient monitoring are two of the most common causes of anesthesia injuries.

When a patient is administered general anesthesia in which they lose consciousness, the diaphragm is often paralyzed. The diaphragm is extremely important to the breathing process, so to prevent any issues with a patient’s oxygen flow, anesthesiologists insert a breathing tube into their windpipe in a process known as intubation.

Similarly, the process by which the breathing tube is removed is called extubation. However, the way this breathing tube is placed and removed must be very carefully done in order to prevent damage to trachea, vocal cords, mouth, not to mention the brain and heart in the case of oxygen deprivation due to an ineffective breathing tube.

On a related note, the anesthesiologist is responsible for monitoring the patient’s breathing and vitals throughout the surgery to make sure that no complications arise. Mistakes made in monitoring could include overlooking important symptoms of oxygen deprivation or nerve damage, and turning off the monitoring equipment while it is still needed.

Victims of medical malpractice can file a claim to seek compensation for damages including medical bills, lost wages, and more.

These and other mistakes made in situations involving anesthesia can cause severe injury and even death in patients, and families should not be left alone to deal with the financial and emotional aftermath. Medical malpractice can result in severe injuries and life-long trauma. In the case of a patient’s death before the completion of a successful medical malpractice claim, the family of the deceased can file a wrongful death claim on the victim's behalf. If you or a loved one suffered from an anesthesia error, seek legal counsel to learn more about your eligibility to file a medical malpractice claim.

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