Most forms of major surgery require the patient to be sedated, both for their own comfort and to make the operation easier for the surgical team. General anesthesia uses very powerful drugs, and administering anesthesia is a medical specialty in itself.
As much as anyone else on the team, an anesthesiologist holds a surgical patient’s life in his or her hands. Mistakes, carelessness or incompetence can result in devastating injury, possibly even death. Examples of anesthesia malpractice include:
- Over-sedation, or giving the patient too high of a dose
- Administering an anesthetic the anesthesiologist knows the patient is allergic to
- Failing to monitor the patient for an allergic reaction
- Causing nerve damage by administering a local anesthetic too close to the spinal cord
- Failure to monitor the patient’s blood pressure, breathing and other vital signs
- Failing to prevent falls from the operating table or a collapse during recovery
Most anesthesiologists are hard-working and conscientious, and anesthesia can cause harm even when the surgical team does its best. It can be difficult to tell afterward if an anesthesia injury was an unfortunate but unavoidable accident, or the result of medical malpractice.
An attorney with experience in anesthesia injury cases will know what the signs of malpractice are, and who should be held responsible.
An anesthesia accident can leave the victim profoundly disabled. Brain damage and heart attacks are possible. If the victim survives, he or she may face a greatly diminished quality of life, including an inability to work or care for him- or herself.