The Nine Most Common Anesthesia Errors

Doctor Administering Anesthesia PatientAnesthesia errors can have debilitating or fatal consequences. An anesthesia error may indicate medical malpractice.

We’ve come a long way from the days when surgery was performed with the patient being given a hefty dose of alcohol and a wood block to bite on. Modern anesthesia makes life-saving medical procedures tolerable, and technology makes it safer than ever before. But it takes competent, well-trained, and meticulously careful medical professionals to administer anesthesia; this is an area of medicine where any lack of attention can have devastating consequences. Anesthesiologists and nurse-anesthetists have a high level of responsibility. They hold a patient’s life in their hands.

How Common are Anesthesia Errors?

It’s difficult to say exactly how often anesthesia complications occur, because adverse events are under reported. The rate of wrongful death attributable to anesthesia error is approximately one in every 200,000 to 300,000, and the reported rate of all complications is .724 per 1000 surgical discharges. The actual numbers are probably higher.

Responsibility of the Anesthesiologist or Nurse Anesthetist

A doctor or nurse charged with the responsibility of giving anesthesia owes a duty of care to the patient, which includes taking a thorough and accurate medical history, remaining closely focused on the patient’s condition and vital signs, and constantly monitoring the equipment and the amounts of the drugs being administered throughout the procedure.

Kinds of Anesthesia Errors

Research has shown that only a very small percentage of problems with anesthesia—4 percent—are caused by faulty equipment. The vast majority are directly attributable to human error or medical negligence. Here is a list of some of the errors that can cause things to go wrong:

  • Improper pre-surgery patient assessment
  • Administering anesthesia while under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • Improper insertion of tracheal tube
  • Giving the wrong amount of anesthesia
  • Drug mix-ups
  • Improper oxygen administration
  • Failing to monitor; leaving the patient unattended
  • Failing to communicate with surgeon or others during the procedure
  • Disconnecting the breathing circuit accidentally

Damage from Anesthesia Errors

Errors with anesthesia may cause damage to the trachea, asphyxia, mental trauma, stroke, heart or lungs damage, birth injuries, brain damage, coma, and death.

What It Takes To Prove Medical Malpractice Claims

It's important to note, to have a legitimate medical malpractice claim, your surgeon or doctor had to have been grossly negligent. 

In order to prove a medical malpractice case you must have a witness, an expert in the medical field or related area, that is willing to testify on your behalf. Without one there is no chance of trying, let alone winning, your case.

There is a huge misconception regarding the preceived "winning" of a medical malpractice claim. Bear in mind, a physician or surgeon is not going to simply settle in order to keep the case from going to court. Accusations of medical malpractice can ruin a medical care practitioner's reputation and career. They will more than willing to go to court in order to protect their themselves and definitely don't take medical malpractice accusations lightly. If you don't have a claim of negligence that can be proven you simply don't have a medical malpractice claim.

A representative of the medical malpractice insurance carrier may offer a small settlement in exchange for a broad, general release that will prevent you from taking any further action. This is best avoided. The insurance company wants only to prevent having to pay a large settlement or verdict. Winning fair compensation for serious losses is more likely when you have an experienced Florida medical malpractice lawyer on your side. Insurance companies fight these cases energetically, because malpractice verdicts can potentially cost them six or seven figures or even more.

Do You Think You May Have A Medical Malpractice Claim?

If you believe you may have a Florida medical malpractice claim you need to speak with an experienced medical malpractice attorney, in order to comply with Florida’s pre-suit investigation requirements, and the strict time limits involved.  Contact us online or call our office directly at 888.815.6398 to schedule a free consultation to discuss your case. Even if we are unable to take on your case, we always do our best to suggest other attorneys who can assist you.

It's important to keep in mind, in order to have a solid medical malpractice claim your doctor or surgeon must have been negligent in performing their services or diagnosis. Not every case will qualify as medical malpractice.

Jim Dodson
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A Florida injury lawyer, family man and avid cyclist who clients have trusted for over 25 years.