Sleeping on the Job: The Most Common and Dangerous Anesthesia Errors

Going under anesthesia typically produces anxiety in patients for a variety of reasons. Often, they worry they won’t wake up, and unfortunately, their worries have real merit. According to a report out of Germany, anesthesia-related deaths are on the rise, and about seven people out of every one million who go under don’t come out. Although doctors undergo rigorous training and schooling in order to become anesthesiologists, it doesn’t mean they don’t make mistakes. This mistake could result in your death or the tragic death of a loved one.

What We Know About Anesthesia

The type of anesthesia that causes the biggest concern is what is considered “general,” which is used to make a person unconscious during the surgery so that she does not feel any pain during the operation and does not remember anything afterwards. The anesthesia also alters the body’s response to surgical cuts, which keeps the release of stress hormones, blood pressure, and heart rate constant during the procedure.

Although anesthesia is much safer today than it was when it was first used, it is in no way completely foolproof. Breathing problems can occur, blood pressure and heart rates can behave erratically, and the body may not receive as much oxygen as it needs in order to function properly because of anesthesia errors. All of these frightening events—and many more—can occur because of simple mistakes made by the anesthesiologist and the medical team, and unless the patient is monitored constantly, dangerous and life-threatening events can take place.

Common Anesthesia Errors

A variety of things can go wrong during surgery, and those related to anesthesia are near the top of the list. Because patients and their family members usually don’t even meet their anesthesiologists until moments before their surgeries, they are unable to check their credentials for themselves and decide whether or not they even want those particular doctors in charge of such a huge responsibility. They may also not even know that anything went wrong during the surgery in relation to the anesthesia until the patient comes out of surgery or it is too late.

Although many different anesthesia-related errors can occur, some are far more common than others, including:

  1. Failure to monitor. As its name implies, failure to monitor occurs when the anesthesiologist fails to watch over the patient and monitor for signs of distress. Not keeping tabs on how much oxygen the patient is receiving, his blood pressure, heart rate, and other vital signs could result in catastrophic injury or death.
  2. Intubation injuries. Anesthesia affects a person’s ability to breathe on his own, so the anesthesiologist will intubate, or place a breathing tube inside the patient’s airway, in order to assist with breathing. Errors during the insertion can cause injuries and prevent a patient from receiving the oxygen he needs.
  3. Errors in anesthesia dosage. Giving the patient too much anesthesia can result in dangerously long sedation, which can lead to brain damage. Not giving enough anesthesia can cause a patient to wake up during the surgery. Not only can the patient feel the pain of the actual surgery if he wakes up, but he will likely endure an experience that is beyond horrifying. Being paralyzed and unable to speak to alert someone of the distress you are experiencing can lead to extreme anxiety which can cause your body to react with increased blood pressure and heart rate. All of this during a surgery is dangerous and can produce deadly effects.
  4. Communication errors. The anesthesiologist is required to keep the doctors and medical team performing the surgery aware of the patient’s vital signs and condition. Failure to keep the medical staff informed of how the patient is doing can lead to serious complications and injury.

Anesthesia Errors Are Inexcusable

While it’s true that no one is perfect and that everyone makes mistakes, doctors are held to a higher standard than others. If the error of an anesthesiologist caused you or a loved one medical harm, you may be entitled to receive financial compensation, and the attorneys of Tavss Fletcher may be able to help. Schedule your appointment to consult with an experienced legal professional by calling 877-960-3441 today.