Many types of necessary medical treatment call for surgical procedures. In order to make these surgical procedures possible, the patient under treatment must be sedated in order to survive such invasive procedures. The practice of anesthetics in medical treatment has been an ongoing part of medical care for as far back as history can trace. Today, the practice has been fine-tuned and designed in order to provide the patient with a safe, comprehensive escape from otherwise impossible pain. However, if administered improperly, anesthesia can be dangerous and place the patient in the peril of injuries.
While some minor procedures can be done with just a local anesthetic, which numbs the area where the treatment is occurring, those procedures are usually limited to superficial injuries on the skin. Invasive procedures on a patient's internal organs most often require a general anesthetic, which places the patient in a controlled state of unconsciousness that provides the absence of pain. By nature, anything that threatens the consciousness of a person must be done with the utmost care in order for it to be effective and safe. While anesthesia is much safer today than it has been in the past, errors do still occur in the dosage and administration. It has been estimated that one out of every 300,000 surgical patients experience life-ending injuries due to anesthesia errors.
Proper anesthesia requires a meticulous calculation of a number of factors that must be in order before the patient may be sedated. These factors include the patient's medical history with anesthesia, the patient's weight and body type, the procedure being performed, the duration of the procedure and the maintenance of the tools used for anesthetizing the patient. If negligence is allowed to seep into the practice of an anesthesiologist, any one of these factors can be the cause of error. For example, a dosage error may occur if the anesthesiologist gives the patient either too much or too little anesthesia. Other possible errors include:
These are just a few errors that may occur in the administration of anesthesia during a surgical procedure. As long as some operations may be, anesthesia requires the full attention of the anesthesiologist. Any amount of professional negligence or wrongful action can quickly cause the patient to sustain injuries such as:
One of the worst things that can result from an anesthesia error is known as anesthesia awareness. As the title may suggest, errors in administration of anesthesia may cause the patient to regain consciousness or feeling during the surgery. Many patients who have experienced anesthesia awareness reported regaining consciousness and being aware of what is happening during the surgery but not feeling anything. What may be even worse for the patient is to regain consciousness and the ability to feel. Anesthesia awareness is usually caused by an inadequate dosage of the sedation drug, allowing the patient to wake up during the surgery.
Studies show that up to 42,000 Americans experience anesthesia awareness each year. Of that number, almost half hear conversations between medical staff in the operating room and feel as though they cannot breathe because of the intubation. The most frightening reality of anesthesia awareness is that 28 percent of patients who are victims to this error can actually feel the pain of the surgery.
Anesthesia errors are frightening. When patients trust medical professionals with their lives, even until the point of being operated on, there is a degree of care implied in the acceptance of that trust. Anesthesiologist play a large role in the fate of a patient and the slightest negligent error can lead to life-altering, if not fatal injury. Most injuries caused by anesthesia errors are permanent, including the effect of anesthesia awareness. Although the trauma of waking up during a surgery is not necessarily physically injuring, patients experienced prolonged post-traumatic stress disorder and will suffer psychologically for years to come.
The risks imposed by anesthesia errors call for a sense of accountability on the part of the anesthesiologist to his or her patients. Although the physical and emotional damage of an anesthesia error cannot be reversed, professional negligence is to be held responsible through compensation. If you or someone you know was the victim of an anesthesia error, you can file a medical malpractice suit with the help of your San Fernando Valley personal injury attorney. Contact The Law Offices of Gerald L. Marcus today to discuss your case with a member of our legal team in a free and confidential case evaluation.