There have been near-miraculous advances in the science of anesthesia. A recent study by The American Society of Anesthesiologists found that deaths from anesthesia in relatively healthy patients have dropped from 1 in 10,000 to 1 in 250,000 over the last 20 years. But the modern practice of anesthesia requires the use of many different powerful drugs and special techniques. And in part because of this, tragic yet preventable mistakes with often deadly consequences continue to occur.
Such mistakes are not limited to hospitals, since they also occur in dentist offices, cosmetic surgery clinics, and elsewhere. And they are also not limited to the administration of anesthesia. They include:
- Improper diagnosis or examination by the anesthesiologist, including failure to check for possible allergies or medical conditions
- Improper pre-operative care
- Mistake(s) in the administration of anesthesia, including wrong medications or incorrect amounts
- Failure to monitor and observe the patient while under anesthesia, including heart and respiration rates, blood pressure and other vital signs
- Improper postoperative care
Although most anesthesia mistakes are made by the anesthesiologist, doctors, surgeons, nurses, the hospital or clinic, dentists, and other medical staff can make anesthesia-related errors. And anesthesiologists are not the only ones that administer anesthesia. In certain procedures, certified registered nurse anesthetists and other nurse practitioners may also do so.
Anesthesia-related mistakes tend to have serious consequences, and may include:
- Nerve damage
- Brain damage, including memory loss
Fortunately, anesthesia-related injuries are rare. Most of them, however, are also preventable. If you or a loved one is the victim of a mistake relating to anesthesia, it is advisable to consult with a qualified and experienced medical malpractice attorney. Medical malpractice cases tend to be very complex, requiring a dedicated professional to help secure a resolution favorable to the victim.