Anesthesia Malpractice Can Devastate Lives And Families, And We Are The Lawyers Fighting For The Victims
When you go in for an operation in the hospital, it’s normal to worry about potential surgical complications. However, it’s also important to be aware doctors can be careless, choosing to not follow the rules that others follow when using anesthesia during the procedure. In fact, in 2016, three percent of payment amounts awarded for malpractice allegations were due to anesthesia issues. In Ohio, insurance companies representing hospitals and doctors paid approximately a total of $2.4 – 3 million for anesthesia malpractice cases in 2016. All of these payouts could have been prevented if the anesthesiologist simply followed the rules other doctors must follow.
Imagine this – you go in for a routine procedure, but there’s a problem with the anesthesia administered or the anesthesiologist. You make it through the operation, but the anesthesia caused an irreversible complication. Who is liable? What is considered an error? Can you file a lawsuit? The experienced Cleveland anesthesia malpractice lawyers can help you through the chaos that comes with an unplanned anesthesia error. Before you file a lawsuit against an anesthesiologist, here is what you need to know.
Representing Victims of Anesthesia Negligence
Anesthesia is common in surgical procedures today. When a patient undergoes surgery, they are usually “put under.” Anesthesia is used to relax a patient, block their pain, make them sleepy and forgetful, or ensure the patient is unconscious during surgery. In some cases, the anesthesia may only put the patient into a semi-conscious state. Drugs, medications, and/or gasses are all effective. There are three types of anesthesia:
- Local anesthesia is used on a small part of the body for minor procedures.
- Regional anesthesia is used to block a larger part of the body, such as the spinal cord.
- General anesthesia, which affects your brain and is used during surgery to make you unconscious.
An anesthesiologist is responsible for administering anesthesia. They are also in charge of keeping the patient sedated during surgery. In addition, they will monitor vital signs and ensure everything is going smoothly. However, things don’t always work as intended. All too often, a patient faces injuries due to improper delivery of anesthesia. When the anesthesiologist fails to follow the safety rules in place and causes an injury or death, it is likely a case of anesthesia malpractice.
Common Anesthesia Malpractice Injuries
Anesthesia typically is a safe way to block pain during surgery or other medical operations. Common side effects of anesthesia are nausea, vomiting, and a sore throat. However, while generally safe, having anesthesia administered poses the risk of the doctor committing an anesthesia error. Errors happen when an anesthesiologist or a certified registered nurse anesthetist (CRNA) fails to follow the rules that are known in their profession and are expected to be followed to protect their patients. Common examples of anesthesia malpractice include, but are not limited to:
- Birth Defects
- Heart Attack
- Nerve Damage
- Brain Damage
- Memory Loss
- Spinal Injury
- Loss of Body Function
If you or a loved one experienced one or many of these complications, it may because there was an anesthesia error during the procedure. An anesthesia malpractice lawyer can help with these cases.
What are common reasons patients have complications from anesthesia?
An anesthesiologist or CRNA’s job is to administer the correct dosage and form of anesthesia, keep the patient sedated, and monitor their vital signs through the duration of receiving anesthesia. When health care providers choose not to do this, injuries or death are the result. Common anesthesia errors that happen are:
- The Anesthesiologist Doesn’t Review the Patient’s Medical History
- Intubation Errors
- Anesthesia Dosage Errors
- Failure to Monitor Vital Signs
- Allergic Reactions to Anesthetic despite a clear allergy history
- Failure to properly intubate the patient
- Prolonged Sedation
- Defective Equipment
- Communications errors
Does every complication mean malpractice happened?
No, there are many normal side effects people may experience after being exposed to anesthesia. The most common effects anesthesia has on the body includes, but is not limited to: vomiting, nausea, dry mouth, sore throat, shivering, fatigue, or a hoarse throat.
I woke up during surgery, do I have an anesthesia malpractice case?
Occasionally, when a person undergoes anesthesia they will make up in the middle of their procedure. This may happen if an anesthesiologist uses too little anesthesia on a patient. Many times, a patient won’t remember this experience, but there are cases when someone will wake up, feel paralyzed and won’t be able to speak to let the medical professional know that they are awake. Unfortunately, this could mean they are aware and even feel pain from surgery, which could result in post-traumatic stress. However, experiencing anesthesia awareness does not mean you have a malpractice case.
In order for the Cleveland anesthesia malpractice lawyers at Tittle & Perlmuter to take your case, you must have experienced a permanent or life-changing injury due to an error made by the anesthesiologist. If you experience anesthesia awareness, along with a catastrophic injury, then you would have a case that Tittle & Perlmuter would take on.
Does Tittle & Perlmuter represent anesthesiologists?
Our law firm does not represent anesthesiologists. We only represent the victims of negligence.
How do I file a lawsuit against an Anesthesiologist?
Determining whether you or a loved one is a victim of medical malpractice is difficult. Ultimately, an anesthesia malpractice lawyer will need to review your case. It is essential that they are able to show negligence on behalf of the medical professional. For this reason, it’s important to talk with an attorney quickly after the injury occurs. It will help with the investigative process.
Cases of anesthesia malpractice are serious examples of medical malpractice. If you are the victim of such a case, you are likely entitled to compensation for the following:
- Medical Bills
- Future Medical Bills
- Permanent Disability
- Loss of Wages
- Diminished Capacity to Earn Future Wages
- Long Term Care
In order to have an anesthesia malpractice case, you must be able to prove that the anesthesiologist was negligent and failed to provide the degree of care and skill that the average anesthesiologist typically would in that situation.
Common Anesthesiologist Malpractice Cases in Ohio
Anesthesiologists are legally and ethically required to properly administer the anesthesia and monitor a patient throughout the duration of their procedure while they’re under anesthesia. Many errors fall under the list of anesthesia malpractice. This form of malpractice usually results from the anesthesiologist’s choice to be careless of choice to not keep up with the latest medical advancements.
Hey folks, Allen Tittle here, Cleveland’s medical malpractice lawyer. A topic I’d like to discuss today is anesthesia malpractice. Folks, when you go to have surgery a lot of times you have to be given what’s called general anesthesia. That’s when you’re put asleep in order for the surgeon to carry out the operation. Now there are specific guidelines that an anesthesiologist must follow in order to make sure the patient is safe. One of those guidelines has to do with, number one you’ve got to look at the medical history of the patient. Specifically, you’ve got to know what allergies the patient has. If that patient is allergic to the specific type of anesthesia that’s going to be given, you don’t want to give that type of anesthesia. The other aspect is they sometimes have to monitor the patient when they’re under anesthesia. If not, that patient could have a lack of oxygen to the brain and suffer a brain injury. Folks, if you or a loved one feel that you’ve been a victim of anesthesia malpractice, please give us a call or visit our website today. Thank you.
Errors in Medication Administration
A young girl is in for the removal of her wisdom teeth, and is given general anesthesia. The anesthesiologist administers anesthesia improperly and then fails to monitor her breathing, which, in turn, causes lack of oxygen to the brain for too long. She makes it through the operation, but has permanent brain damage.
The amount of anesthesia patients need is not a one size fits all deal; it varies widely from person to person. The anesthesia amount depends on age, gender, weight and height. An anesthesiologist monitors neurological signs and brain waves to know when they’ve given the correct dosage. Medication mistakes are avoidable. When an anesthesiologist administers too much (causing an overdose) or the wrong form of anesthesia, it may be a form of malpractice.
Anesthesiologist Doesn’t Properly Review the Patient’s Medical Record
A man goes into the hospital for minor surgery and anesthesia is administered. The anesthesiologist fails to look at the man’s allergy history and misses that the man has a known allergy to the anesthesia used in the procedure. During the procedure, the man has an allergic reaction, goes into anaphylactic shock, and dies.
An anesthesiologist must look at a patient’s medical history before deciding the anesthesia form and dosage. It is their job to recognize allergies or any other pre-existing conditions that may cause harmful risks when anesthesia is administered. These conditions include but are not limited to:
- Heart conditions
- Blood disorders
- Liver disease
- Respiratory disease
- Certain medications
An elderly woman goes in for a routine knee replacement. They place her under general anesthesia so she isn’t awake during the uncomfortable procedure. The anesthesiologist fails to properly monitor the woman’s breathing. It is too late when they notice her breathing is hindered. They try to intubate the woman to restore the flow of oxygen, but, because of her anatomy, cannot. The woman doesn’t wake up out of surgery and is in a permanent vegetative state as a result of a lack of oxygen to her brain.
It is critical for an anesthesiologist to monitor a patient through the entire duration that they are under anesthesia. Anesthesia slows down and can completely stop a patient’s breathing. This is why it is crucial an anesthesiologist monitors the patient’s vital signs. If someone’s breathing or airway is compromised, they can suffocate or suffer from asphyxia (lack of oxygen to the brain). In these instances, the patient would need to be intubated, which takes practice to be able to insert it properly. If a patient is injured or dies from an anesthesiologist’s lack of monitoring or the ability to intubate then anesthesia malpractice could have taken place.
Who is Liable for Anesthesia Errors?
Knowing who you are filing a lawsuit against is important. When it comes to anesthesia errors, you have to determine whether the hospital or the anesthesiologist directly is liable (or both). In the case that the negligent anesthesiologist is an employee of the hospital, then the hospital and the doctor should be sued. However, if the anesthesiologist is an independent contractor, you must sue, at the very least, the doctor. If equipment failure caused the anesthesia error, then the hospital becomes liable for having faulty equipment.
What Can I do to Prevent Anesthesia Malpractice from Happening?
Due to the nature of anesthesia, malpractice occurs, generally speaking, while the patient is asleep. This means that it is difficult to find out the real reason why the error occurred. Here are a few tips to avoid this situations:
- Prior to the surgery, ask what your anesthesiologist will do and is responsible for. Many people don’t understand what anesthesiologist’s job is, and it is important to understand how the anesthesiologist and surgeon will interact during your procedure.
- What are the chances of any serious complications? It is critical for you to know the risks of any procedure.
- Will any of my medications affect the way I interact with anesthesia? Additionally, bring a list of the current medications you’re taking, because your records may not always be up to date before surgery or another procedure.
- When should I stop eating and drinking before anesthesia? When someone is unconscious, any food or liquids remaining in the stomach may come back up and get lodged in the throat or lungs, causing further complications. Your healthcare professional will tell you the best time to stop eating and drinking.
- Who cares for me while I receive anesthesia? The answer should be the anesthesiologist. However, it’s important to know anybody who you are entrusting your care to.
- How will my body be monitored? An anesthesiologist is supposed to monitor your vital signs throughout the duration of the procedure, while you are under anesthesia.
- Is the Anesthesiologist Aware of My Allergies? Make sure you have a list of allergies with you and provide that to your anesthesiologist.
The more information you know going into a medical procedure involving anesthesia, the better. After you’ve come out of the anesthesia, you should also ask how the procedure went and if there were any complications from the anesthesia.
Contact Our Cleveland Anesthesia Malpractice Attorneys
Anesthesia malpractice typically occurs during surgery. After the anesthesiologist sedates the patient, various issues may arise. Therefore, you may be unsure if the complications you or a loved one suffered are the result of medical negligence related to anesthesia.
Anesthesia malpractice cases are challenging because finding evidence is a difficult task. In some situations, medical records may not include a full or accurate detailed account in the event of an anesthesia error. That’s why it is important to hire an experienced anesthesia malpractice lawyer to help you navigate through the chaos.
Tittle & Perlmuter’s experienced anesthesia malpractice lawyers are here for you. They will help you navigate the complex issues involved with these types of cases. Call our Cleveland office at 216-285-9991 for a free medical consultation. Or fill out our online contact form if you prefer.
We understand that medical negligence can cause financial and emotional hardship for families. The situation is often very stressful. We are a “client-focused” firm. We are happy to arrange evening and weekend appointments to fit your schedule and lessen the stress. And if you’re not mobile, we’re more than willing to come to you!