Demystifying Anesthesia Errors: Your Legal Rights and Safety

by | Oct 31, 2023 | Medical Malpractice

In the complex world of healthcare, getting things right is a top priority. When it comes to anesthesia, even the tiniest mistake can lead to complications. In the most severe cases, these range from respiratory failure to organ damage and, in rare cases, even death.

A group of diligent researchers undertook a retrospective analysis from 2007 to 2014 to highlight anesthesia errors in U.S. healthcare. This investigation looked at inpatients who experienced complications arising from the incorrect administration of anesthesia, stemming from either an overdose or the inappropriate use of medication.

Over the seven-year period, more than 17,000 anesthesia errors were unearthed, revealing a picture that, while preventable in principle, stubbornly persists for an array of complex reasons, which include:

Communication Breakdown: Hospitals are hectic, sometimes chaotic, with multiple healthcare professionals involved in patient care. Effective communication is pivotal, extending from pre-surgery preparations to the procedure itself. It encompasses sharing information with the patient, updating medical teams about critical changes, and post-operative follow-ups. Lack of communication can lead to potential liability for those involved.

Incomplete or Inaccurate Patient History: Anesthesia decisions are inherently rooted in a patient’s medical history and current condition. Failing to obtain a comprehensive history or inaccurately recording patient data can lead to administering incorrect medication dosages or triggering adverse reactions to anesthesia drugs.

Human Errors: We are all prone to making mistakes, but errors can have dire consequences in healthcare. Medical professionals must follow strict procedures to mitigate such risks, whether accidentally swapping syringes or mishandling gas flow. Failure to do so could result in legal liabilities.

Inadequate Monitoring: Continuous monitoring of a patient’s vital signs and anesthesia depth is essential to ensure their safety. Failure to adequately monitor a patient can result in complications, including overdose or underdose of anesthesia drugs.

Medication Errors: Administering the wrong medication, incorrect dosage, or failing to cross-check with patients’ allergies or existing medications can result in severe complications. Anesthesiologists and healthcare providers must be vigilant in medication management.

Lack of Proper Training or Experience: Inexperienced or inadequately trained anesthesia providers can make mistakes in judgment and administration. Proper training, ongoing education, and adherence to best practices are crucial for preventing errors.

Systemic Issues: Organizational and systemic issues within healthcare facilities can contribute to anesthetic errors. These may include understaffing, excessive workload, lack of standardization in protocols, and equipment failures.

Why Accountability Matters

The consequences of the worst anesthesia mistakes can be heartbreaking. To keep patients safe and sound, it’s crucial to prevent these errors in the first place.

When errors do occur, holding individuals and institutions accountable serves two essential purposes. It offers a sense of justice to those affected, and it also plays a role in creating a healthcare system that’s safer, clearer, and more centered on patient well-being.

How Menzer Law Can Help

If you or a loved one has suffered from severe complications resulting from an anesthesia error, you don’t have to face the aftermath alone. Attorney Matt Menzer, a seasoned legal professional with over 30 years of experience, specializes in medical malpractice claims, including catastrophic anesthesia errors. He is committed to safeguarding the rights of injured patients and their families. You can contact Menzer Law at 206.903.1818 or fill out this online form, and we will review your claim at no cost.

Disclaimer: This content is intended for educational purposes and general information about the law. It should not be considered a substitute for professional legal advice from a licensed attorney in your state.