Going under anesthesia can be dangerous. An anesthesia error study published in the Anesthesiology medical journal revealed that 2,211 deaths occurred due to anesthesia complications between 1999 and 2005. Because anesthesia is a delicate process, there are many opportunities for error to occur. If you believe you or a loved one sustained injuries due to an anesthesia error, call the New York anesthesia malpractice lawyers at Buttafuoco & Associates to discuss your legal options: 1-800-NOW-HURT.
Types of Anesthesia Errors
Anesthesia involves a precise mixture of medications administered under careful watch. Even the most careful anesthesiologists can make mistakes, however. These may include:
Medication errors are the most common type of anesthesia errors; in fact, according to Johns Hopkins University, if the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) classified medical errors separately, they would be the third leading cause of death in the U.S.
Medical errors can result from administering the wrong medications or wrong doses. In some cases, the error lies with a failure to check or acknowledge a patient’s allergy to an anesthesia component.
Anesthesia overdoses accounted for 46.6 percent of the 2,211 deaths in the study referenced previously. Even small miscalculations can have drastic repercussions in a patient’s condition. Underdoses can also lead to a great deal of suffering, pain, and mental anguish if the patient is awake and aware during the procedure.
Errors During Patient Preparation
There is also a risk of error during patient preparation. For example, anesthesiologists must take care to review a patient’s charts for allergies or intolerance of certain anesthetics. Another critical part of preparing to administer anesthesia is to check for any potential difficulties with intubation (i.e., placing a tube into the windpipe to keep the airway open or to administer drugs) such as the patient’s consumption of food or drink or abnormalities in the trachea.
Failure to Monitor Vitals
Finally, failure to monitor vitals is often a secondary component to anesthesia errors. Anesthesiologists are usually able to address any changes in a patient’s condition during surgery without harm, but if those conditions, such as oxygen levels, reach dangerous levels, they can be deadly.
Complications from Anesthesia Errors
Depending on the circumstances, an anesthesia error can lead to minor consequences such as a reaction with the drug or much more severe consequences such as long-term damage, mental anguish, pain, or even death.
For example, failure to properly intubate and control oxygen intake during sedation can lead to brain damage caused by a lack of oxygen to the brain. Improper application of anesthesia can lead to cardiac episodes including heart failure, heart attack, and stroke.
There is also evidence of patients undergoing sedation, only to be fully aware but unable to communicate distress during a procedure. This situation can cause severe mental disturbance and long-lasting psychological effects.
Seeking Damages for an Anesthesia Error
You might be entitled to compensation for damages from an anesthesia error if you can gather evidence showing a medical error has occurred in your care. Damages may include, but are not limited to:
- Medical expenses
- Lost wages or earning potential
- Loss of consortium
- Pain and suffering
- Funeral expenses
- Long-term care costs
Victims may be entitled to high amounts of damages because anesthesia errors often cause permanent damage or death. Families of patients involved in anesthesia errors have a right to file a wrongful death claim on behalf of their loved one if the anesthesia error resulted in death.
When you are considering filing a malpractice claim, remember that you have two and a half years to file your claim according to the New York statute of limitations. Collecting evidence can take significant time in these cases, so it is important to seek help as soon as possible to avoid the statute of limitations running out.
Patients rarely have the resources to collect the medical records and expert opinions necessary to file a malpractice claim. Therefore, to file a medical malpractice claim for anesthesia errors, patients should turn to the help of a New York medical malpractice attorney.
A medical malpractice attorney will be able to set a victim or family members up with a medical expert who will be able to prove that a medical error occurred. These experts can identify errors in your care and provide testimony explaining the error and identifying the proper conduct for the situation. An expert can also testify on the potential outcome had the error not occurred, which often shows that the patient would not have suffered injury but for the anesthesia error.
Buttafuoco & Associates helps injured New York construction workers settle their workers’ compensation and workplace injury claims. Call 1-800-NOW-HURT or fill out our contact form to schedule a free case review.