During surgery, an anesthesiologist places the patient in a semi-unconscious or unconscious state through drugs, medications and gasses. In the modern operating room, anesthesiologists have a tremendous responsibility both to keep the patient sedated during surgery and manage their vital signs and oxygenation. And they are often primarily responsible for the patient’s care immediately after surgery.
As a Chicago medical malpractice law firm, we know that, unfortunately, anesthesia errors occur. Many of these take place during the surgical procedure and are quickly corrected, but others can lead to disastrous consequences.
Common anesthesia mistakes
- Failure to intubate or injuries caused during intubation – Anesthesiologists often intubate a patient during surgery to help them breathe. Serious injury can occur when the anesthesiologist makes an error during intubation or fails to maintain a proper airway.
- Failure to monitor – The anesthesiologist is responsible for regulating a patient’s level of consciousness during the procedure and their oxygenation, among other crucial responsibilities. Failure here can lead to serious brain injury or death.
- Communication errors – Another primary responsibility of the anesthesiologist is to keep those performing the surgery fully aware of the patient’s condition, including their vital signs. Failure to communicate properly can lead to serious complications.
- Errors in anesthesia dosage – It is crucial that the anesthesiologist administer neither too much nor too little anesthesia. Too much anesthesia can prolong sedation which may lead to a coma and brain injury.
- Anesthesia awareness – This situation occurs when too little anesthesia has been administered and the patient regains consciousness during the procedure. Yet, because of paralytic drugs they have received, they cannot communicate their situation and often suffer excruciating pain as the surgery progresses. Recovery from anesthesia awareness often takes months of therapy and, understandably, may leave the patient fearful of undergoing future surgical procedures. There are 20,000 to 40,000 cases of anesthesia awareness each year in the U.S.
Anesthesia medical mistakes can be incredibly difficult to prove, often requiring a great amount of detective work, along with medical knowledge and an understanding of policies and procedures. At the Law Office of Scott D. DeSalvo, we are a Chicago medical malpractice law firm with many years of experience in this field. If you or a loved one has suffered an injury due to an anesthesia error, email or call us at 888-HURT-318 (888-487-8318) and give us an opportunity to assist you in getting the redress to which you are entitled.