Each year, more than 26 million people in the United States undergo some form of medical treatment requiring anesthesia. — American Association of Nurse Anesthetists
When handled correctly, general anesthesia allows a patient to “go to sleep” and undergo a medical procedure free of pain. When anesthesia malpractice occurs, the patient may never wake up.
The attorneys at Koskoff Koskoff & Bieder PC, represent clients injured by anesthesia malpractice and the estates of those who died because of nurse anesthetist malpractice or an anesthesiologist’s mistake.
Anesthesia malpractice is relatively rare. When it does occur, the damage tends to be extremely serious and can include severe brain damage and death.
Because the patient is sedated, he or she will not observe or remember if malpractice occurred. That is one reason why it is important to have the case evaluated by an experienced medical malpractice attorney who can recognize the hallmarks of anesthesia malpractice.
How It Happens
Injuries or fatalities due to anesthesia can occur because of:
- Equipment problems: Including failure of the equipment itself as well as failure of alarms to sound because someone turned them off or failed to check that they were turned on.
- Medication problems: Including administering the wrong medication or the wrong dose.
- Pre-operative care problems: Administering anesthetics too soon after a patient has eaten can be avoided by proper pre-operative directions and screening. Patients should be given clear, pre-operative instructions, asked about any drug allergies and any prior adverse reactions to anesthesia.
- Intubation problems: General anesthesia require that a tube be positioned in the trachea to protect the airway and regulate breathing. If it is inserted too roughly, bleeding can occur. Breathing problems, including lung collapse and asphyxia, can result.
- Failure to monitor: Medical professionals may fail to respond adequately to a patient who is in distress.
- Resuscitation problems: Was there cardiopulmonary resuscitation equipment in the operating and recovery rooms? Did the medical professionals involved know how to use it?
Anesthesiologists are highly-paid specialists who do not stay at the patient’s side throughout the procedure. They may oversee patients in several operating rooms at once. Nurse anesthetists monitor individual patients and contact the anesthesiologist if a problem occurs. If this chain of communication breaks down or if the anesthesiologist is busy with one patient while another is in crisis, the consequences can be life-threatening.
If you believe you were injured or a loved one died because of anesthesia malpractice or a nursing medication error, please contact us to arrange a free initial consultation. From offices in Bridgeport and New Haven, Connecticut, our medical malpractice lawyers represent clients throughout the state.