Anesthesia is a necessary component to modern surgery. It carries certain risks. There is no doubt that some anesthesia injuries and fatalities are not the fault of the anesthesiologist but were simply unavoidable. But there are many – far too many – anesthesia injuries and deaths that are the result of the negligent or careless administration to vulnerable patients who tragically put their lives in the anesthesiologist’s hands.
Types of Lawsuits Against Anesthesiologists
There are many different kinds of anesthesia malpractice claims. Unfortunately, there are many commonly reoccurring malpractice lawsuits because there are many anesthesia mistakes that are far too common:
- Improper dosage: Either too much or too little anesthesia can cause injury. Most malpractice claims involving anesthesia involve too much anesthesia. The “cousin” to anesthesia overdose is giving anesthesia to the patient at all. General anesthesia is contraindicated in a lot of cases where there are significant risks for the patient, and the procedure could have been safely and easily performed under local anesthesia. You can learn more about these cases in Maryland here.
- Anesthesia monitoring mistakes: In many cases, the amount of anesthesia given was appropriate according to the information the doctors had at their disposal, but the anesthesiologist also has to monitor how the patient responds to the anesthesia and react accordingly. This is the most common type of anesthesiologist malpractice, according to government statistics.
- Post-anesthesia care unit: In some ways, anesthesia mistakes are even more common in PACU because when the operation is over, health care providers let their guard down. Some of the worst hypoxic brain injuries have been from anesthesia given in the PACU.
- Failure to properly intubate: Mistakes in intubation lead to some of the largest anesthesia verdicts.
- Repeated attempts at inserting the tube can cause the tissue in the patient’s airway to swell shut, blocking off oxygen and causing cardiac arrest that can lead to brain damage and death, particularly if all of the appropriate countermeasures are not taken.
- Failing to secure properly the intubation tube (taping it on or to the patient’s face) and failing to inflate the Murphy Cuff, which is designed to provide a seal to prevent any fluid or particulate aspiration into the plaintiff’s lungs.
- Failing to find appropriate alternative methods of securing the airway should a problem arise.
- Failing to confirm the position of the tube in the trachea.
- Failure to properly extubate the patient: The reoccurring problem here is extubating the patient too soon which makes reintubation difficult.
When you read this, it sounds like there are a lot of things anesthesiologists can do that can go wrong and perhaps they are being held to an extremely high standard. It is true; they are. (Note they are also extremely highly paid for their work.) The overwhelming majority of anesthesiologists live up to this high standard because these doctors realize what is at stake and treat the patients accordingly. Some doctors don’t. This is where anesthesia malpractice cases arise.
When you breakdown anesthesia injury cases where medical malpractice is suspected, there are three kinds of cases:
(1) cases that can be proven to be the result of malpractice,
(2) cases where there does not appear to be medical malpractice, and
(3) cases where the anesthesia malpractice attorneys are convinced in their heart that the injury was from malpractice — but they can’t prove it.
Anesthesia malpractice errors are a challenge to prove and you need an attorney who will do everything possible to marshal all of the evidence of malpractice.
Getting a Lawyer for Your Anesthesia Wrongful Death or Injury Claim
Our law firm handles healthcare negligence cases involving death or serious injury. If you or a loved one have sustained a serious injury as a result of an error or mistake you suspect was made by an anesthesiologist, call at 800-553-8082 or get a free online consultation.
More Information on Medical Malpractice Claims
- Overview of Surgical Malpractice Cases in Maryland
- Sample Expert Report (surgery case report)
- Finding Experts in Malpractice Cases (we share our list!)
- $1 Million Verdict for Our Client (news article on one of our recent verdicts – surgical malpractice)
- Look at Verdicts and Settlements in Malpractice Brain Injury Cases