Anesthesia Errors: Just How Often Do They Occur?

When a patient has to undergo a surgical procedure, an anesthesiologist may be called to administer anesthetic to help numb the pain and sedate the patient. While the majority of these procedures go smoothly, there are times when an error occurs that causes direct harm to the patient. Some of these injuries are life-threatening and can cause permanent damage—and others are so tragic, they result in a fatality.

A survey published inAnesthesia & Analgesia found that over 80% of anesthesiologists have been involved in a fatal or serious incident to a patient. These tragic events range from a severe injury to death and they cause long-lasting consequences for both the patient and the family. In addition, the anesthesiologists are also permanently affected, experiencing a wide range of emotions, including anxiety, guilt, and reliving of the event throughout their careers. The majority of those surveyed also said that they felt personally responsible for the injury or the death.

Anesthesia errors can range from giving the wrong medication to giving too much anesthetic medication. When this occurs, the patient can stop breathing, go into cardiac arrest, or experience a stroke. The results can be tragic—especially for already compromised patients who are undergoing surgery. In addition to fatal injuries, failure to administer epidural correctly or anesthesia correctly can result in trauma to the teeth, tongue, and vocal cords that can result in permanent disability.

In addition to administering medication, the anesthesiologist is responsible for monitoring the patient’s status during surgery. This includes paying close attention to oxygen levels and heart rate. If the patient loses too much oxygen and becomes hypoxic, they can risk suffering serious brain damage.

If you or someone you love was injured after an anesthesia error, it is important to speak with an experienced Fort Lauderdale medical malpractice lawyer immediately to discuss your legal options. Anesthesiologists and other hospital personnel have a responsibility to ensure the safety of their patients. They owe a duty of care to their patients and their patients’ families. When a doctor or nurse breaches this duty of care, they can—and should—be held responsible for their actions.

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