Anesthesiology Malpractice: Making Sure You’re Informed

Team of doctors about to perform anesthesiaFrom the small dose at the dentist’s office to make that root canal a little less of a nightmare, to the heavy dosage before a major surgery, anesthesia is a vital part of most people’s medical lives at some point. Administered by either a small, localized injection or via mask over our mouth and nose, anesthesia is a necessity for many medical operations.

It’s necessity derives from the facility of these operations when we are in this drug-induced state, as pain is numbed and we become significantly more compliant in the matters of medical procedures. Generally, we can break anesthesia down in three forms:

  • Local, in which a small part of the patient’s body is numbed, but the patient stays awake and retains overall conscious
  • Regional, in which entire portions of the body are anesthetized to keep them docile and easier on which to operate
  • General, in which the patient is completely unconscious, leaving them open for more major surgeries and procedures

However, the vitality of anesthesia makes it all the more dangerous, as its essential role in many medical procedures means the slightest miscalculation can lead to severe injury or even death. These miscalculations, when they lead to otherwise preventable injury, can be grounds for a medical malpractice lawsuit against both the anesthesiologist and the medical facility in which the incident occurred.

Anesthesia: When Done Wrong

Often, even with its common application, patients will report various, not-too-severe complaints following a dose of anesthesia. These can include a sore throat, pain, nausea and vomiting, and even a slight mental daze.

That being said, more serious risks are associated with improper administration of anesthesia as well. These risks can be fatal, and are at the very least likely to lead to severe pain and suffering for the patient, had the miscalculation not occurred. Some of these risks include:

  • Tooth or larynx damage
  • Anaphylaxis
  • Pneumonia
  • Stroke or heart attack
  • Brain or nerve damage
  • Blood clots
  • Regaining of consciousness during a procedure
  • Death

Of these, death makes up over a quarter of reported anesthesia injuries, while nerve injury and permanent brain damage are also common consequences.  Anesthesiologists can make numerous different mistakes, by administering the wrong dosage, failing to properly monitor the patient or not recognizing problems as they arise, not preparing the patient properly for surgery, intubating the patient improperly, and more.

These are in addition to the dangers of post-operative blindness, which occurs when patients are left in a prone position for too long following a major surgery (i.e. cardiac or back fusion surgery) or suffer an anesthesiologist malpractice during cataract surgery. The mistakes leading to these developments of blindness are some of the most common origins of malpractice claims.

Developing an Anesthesia Malpractice Claim

As with most medical malpractice, there is a process for remittance and recompense by any patient who feels their anesthesiologist has been grossly negligent in the administration of anesthesia. However, this process requires consideration of many different elements, due to the complication of the profession.

For one, it is necessary to consider all external factors, such as a patient’s pre-surgical risk factors and any complications associated with the particular anesthesia in question. These factors may reduce the amount of culpability of the anesthesiologist in the eyes of the law.  It’s also a question of knowing how wide of a net of malpractice to cast, as some cases may deem the hospital or medical facility in which the alleged malpractice occurred to be liable as well. This generally breaks down into two categories:

  • Negligent hiring/supervision, in the case of an independent contractor acting as anesthesiologist;
  • Vicarious liability, in the case of an employed anesthesiologist

Whether or not you have a case will be up to state law, which is why having a Michigan-based legal team with experience in the field will be essential moving forward. These attorneys will determine the legitimacy of your claim based off two steps.  One, did the anesthesiologist fail to provide adequate care both during and after a surgery, when another competent anesthesiologist would have provided better care?  Two, did this substandard care lead to otherwise preventable injury or death in the case of the patient?  If both of these steps prove true, you likely have a case for malpractice.

The First Step Is Contacting an Anesthesia Attorney To See If You Have a Case

If you feel that you or a loved one has been the victim of an anesthesiology malpractice, the first step you should take is to consult an experienced attorney in your state, who will be able to thoroughly investigate all the evidence and gauge whether you have a valid claim to make or not, on a legal basis.  The Clark Law Office has over four decades’ worth of experience in medical malpractice suits, and will aggressively pursue any anesthesiologist whose negligence in their work has led to long-term pain or suffering for a patient.  We charge no fees unless you win and offer free consultations for all medical malpractice cases.  Call us today at (517) 347-6900!