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Anesthesia Errors Can Have Grave Consequences

At no time are you more vulnerable as a patient than when you’re being put under general anesthesia for a surgical procedure. You are entirely dependent on the expertise and attention of both the anesthesiologist and surgeon, with no way to intercede on your own behalf while unconscious. While most of us understand that we might suffer serious injuries from a surgeon’s negligence, a failure to properly prepare for, administer, and monitor the effects of anesthesia can also cause serious injury or death. Learn more about anesthesia errors below.

The three categories of anesthesia are general, local, and regional. Local and regional anesthesia allow a patient to remain conscious during a surgical procedure, with anesthesia being administered only to certain portions of the body on which the surgeon will be operating. Regional and local anesthesia tend to result in fewer opportunities for anesthesia-related complication. General anesthesia, however, involves making a patient entirely unconscious. Doctors must ensure that patients are prepared for general anesthesia by ensuring that they have fasted for a sufficient length of time prior to surgery, and are not taking any medications which could have a negative interaction with the anesthesia. A failure to prepare patients for anesthesia, or failure to ensure that no harmful interactions might occur between their prescription medications and the anesthesia, could result in serious consequences for the patient. 

The anesthesiologist must carefully calculate and administer a cocktail of drugs consisting of three major components. These are: relaxants, to soften the muscles and allow surgeons to move them out of the way of the surgical site; analgesics, to dull the patient’s ability to feel pain; and, hypnotics, to cause unconsciousness. If any of these components is not administered in sufficient quantity, the patient could remain conscious or able to feel the pain of surgery. Likewise, an excessive amount of these drugs could cause brain damage or even death.

Anesthesiologists must closely monitor a surgical patient throughout the procedure, to ensure that blood pressure and brain activity remain at healthy levels. Patients under general anesthesia must be intubated, as they are unable to breathe unassisted. Should a patient be intubated incorrectly, or not intubated early enough, that patient could suffer brain damage or some amount of brain death as a result of failing to get a sufficient amount of oxygen.

If you or someone you love has been seriously or fatally injured by an anesthesia error in the Maryland or Washington D.C. area, seek compensation you may be owed for medical expenses, pain and suffering, or lost wages by contacting the professional and knowledgeable Rockville medical malpractice attorneys at Brault Graham, LLC for a consultation, at 301-424-1060.