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Anesthesia Errors

General anesthesia is administered to patients undergoing surgical procedures so they will be unconscious and feel no pain during the procedure. An anesthesiologist is tasked with safely delivering the appropriate drugs at a proper dosage to a surgical patient. The anesthesiologist must then monitor the patient’s vital signs during the pre-operative, surgical and post-operative phases of the procedure.

Anesthesia errors can have serious consequences, including disabling injury and death. In many cases, anesthesia errors result in asphyxiation, or a lack of oxygen, which can quickly cause brain damage. When an injury due to an anesthesia error has been caused by negligence, the injured patient or family members may have a right to seek compensation for their losses through a medical malpractice claim.

Kraft & Associates, P.C., of Dallas investigates anesthesia errors and represents Texas individuals and families who have been significantly harmed by preventable medical mistakes. If you or a loved one has suffered an injury during a surgical procedure that may have been caused by an anesthesia error, contact us today for a free and confidential discussion of your legal options.

We’re an established and professional law firm with friendly lawyers and staff who are easy to talk to. Please call us at (214) 999-9999 or contact us online.

Common Errors: General Anesthesia

A patient who is administered general anesthesia becomes unconscious and wakes up after the surgical procedure with no memory of the operation. Anesthesia is safe for most healthy people. It can be a risk for people with allergies; those who have heart, lung or kidney problems; and those who smoke or abuse alcohol or drugs.

In almost all cases, a medical doctor known as an anesthesiologist administers general anesthesia to a surgical patient. The anesthesiologist stays with the patient throughout the procedure and into recovery to adjust the dosage of drugs and monitor the patient’s vital signs and reaction to the anesthetic. The anesthesiologist also meets with the patient prior to the procedure to evaluate the patient’s condition and review their medical history, including asking about risk factors.

An anesthesiologist is often assisted by a certified registered nurse anesthetist (CRNA).

In most cases of anesthesia errors, the mistake is a drug-related error, such as:

  • Wrong medication
  • Overdose
  • Underdose
  • Omission
  • Incorrect administration route

One study of drug-related errors found that most frequent causes of overdose involved a misunderstanding or wrong preconception about the dosage, misuse of the pump that administered the drug or an error in dilution of the drug.

Problems with ventilation or esophageal intubation may also lead to injuries considered to be anesthesia errors.

Common results of anesthesia errors include:

  • Respiratory insufficiency (lack of oxygen).
  • Nerve damage.
  • Gastric aspiration.
  • Aspiration pneumonitis (lung infection).
  • Airway injury.
  • Awareness or emotional distress (from underdose).

A lack of oxygen or too little oxygen caused by an anesthesia error – the most common adverse occurrence – can quickly lead to brain damage, cardiac arrest or death.

A study that identified risk factors for anesthesia errors said the most common were due to either inadequate experience (16 percent) or inadequate familiarity with equipment or devices (9.3 percent), and haste, inattention or carelessness (5.6 percent).

Potential contributors to an anesthesia error during surgery include:

  • Failure to perform normal check (follow procedures).
  • Relying too much on other personnel.
  • Inadequate training or experience.
  • Inadequate familiarity with the anesthetic technique.
  • Inadequate familiarity with surgery.
  • Insufficient preparation.
  • Poor labelling of controls and drugs.
  • Visual field restricted.
  • Emergency, demanding or difficult case.
  • Situation precluded normal precautions.
  • Supervision-related factors, including lack of enough supervision.
  • Environment or colleagues (inappropriate demeanor, activities, etc.).
  • Mental and physical factors.
  • Fatigue.
  • Distraction.
  • Apprehension (failure or slow to make decisions).
  • Boredom.
  • Slow procedure (patient “under” too long).
  • Equipment failure.

Determining whether negligence played a role in an anesthesia error usually requires a thorough investigation that includes technical analysis of medical records, and interviewing medical personnel involved with the case. Our legal team enlists the help of outside medical experts to review records and reports, and suggest lines of further inquiry as well as their conclusions based on the evidence collected.

Medical malpractice claims based on anesthesia errors are complex and lengthy undertakings. Anytime a patient suffers an unexpected severe injury or death while under medical care, the patient or surviving family members deserve the benefit of an independent examination of the facts. If negligence is found, they deserve full and fair compensation for their losses.

Contact Our Medical Malpractice Lawyers About an Anesthesia Error

The medical malpractice attorneys of Kraft & Associates, P.C., in Dallas can help if you suspect that you or a loved one has been injured by an anesthesia error while undergoing a surgical procedure or other medical treatment. We conduct thorough investigations and analyses of potential medical malpractice claims with the help of independent medical experts, and aggressively pursue compensation in cases of errors caused by negligence.

Medical malpractice cases are complex and Texas law imposes strict statute-of-limitations deadlines on filing claims. It is important to begin work on a case as soon as possible. Contact Kraft & Associates for a free and confidential review of your case. Call us at (214) 999-9999, send email to kraftlaw@kraftlaw.com, or complete our online form today.

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