Common Anesthesia Errors and How to Handle Them


Anesthesias are medications given to patients to prevent pain during surgical procedures. However, anesthesias are not completely safe. Depending on the type of anesthesia and the procedure, anesthesia has varying levels of risk.

Anesthesia errors often happen because of negligence by health professionals. Some anesthesia errors have mild effects and will heal after a couple of days or weeks. Some have severe consequences and can even be life-altering. There are things you can do after you or your loved one has suffered an anesthesia error.

What Are the Most Common Anesthesia Errors?

There are lots of anesthesia errors, but some occur frequently. They include:

Anesthesia Dosage Error

Anesthesia dosage error can happen either by administering a higher dosage of anesthesia or a smaller dosage. Lack of experience, failure to monitor adequately, carelessness, or unfamiliarity with equipment are some causes of anesthesia dosage error.

Administering anesthesia that is less than what is required can cause the patient to become aware before the procedure is over. This is known as anesthesia awareness, and it can be a traumatic experience. It’s traumatic because the patient is not fully unconscious and can’t move their body or talk because of the effect of the anesthesia. However, they may know what’s going on and sometimes feel pressure or pain. 

Administering too much anesthesia during surgeries can result in lots of consequences, including:

  • Hypothermia
  • Hallucination
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Seizures
  • Stroke
  • Dementia
  • Prolonged unconsciousness
  • Brain injury
  • Death

Failure to Monitor Common Side Effects and Vital Signs

Part of the responsibility of anesthesiologists includes monitoring patients under anesthesia to ensure patient safety during and after the procedure. Anesthesia affects the central nervous system, respiratory system, and cardiovascular system. These can impair normal body functions, which can cause changes in a patient’s vital signs and various side effects. 

Vital signs include body temperature, blood pressure, blood oxygen level, pulse rate, and breathing rate. With careful monitoring, an anesthesiologist can identify and respond to any change in the vital signs during and after the surgery so they don’t cause injury to the patient. 

Anesthesia side effects usually show up when the patient regains consciousness. While lots of these side effects will disappear after a couple of days or weeks, it’s still important to monitor them. Common anesthesia side effects that should be monitored include:

  • Dizziness
  • Difficulty urinating
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Confusion and memory loss
  • Shivering due to low body temperature
  • Sore throat, caused by the breathing tube
  • Bruises or soreness from the IV
  • Back pain or muscle pain

Failure to monitor anesthesia side effects and a patient’s vital signs is often a reason to bring a medical malpractice lawsuit against the anesthesiologist.

Wrong Type of Anesthesia Administered

Administering the wrong type of medication is one of the major medical errors. In the United States, 7,000 to 9,000 people die every year because of a medication error. There are several underlying causes: look-alike drugs, confusing drug labels, swapping syringes and ampoules, lack of labels or wrong labels on syringes, and sound-alike drugs.

Surgeries are hectic and stressful events. Lots of medication errors happen because health practitioners are tired or distracted. Administering the wrong type of anesthesia can lead to physical harm, disability, and even death.

What Are Anesthetic Error Complications and What Can You Do?

Different complications from anesthesia issues require you to take different actions. You can do the following after an anesthesia error.

Fatal Errors: File Wrongful Death Lawsuit

If anesthesia error results in the death of a loved one, you can file a wrongful death lawsuit against those responsible. State laws govern wrongful death claims. Only the deceased's personal representative can file a wrongful death claim in some states, including Ohio.

Another important thing you should note is that the statute of limitation for wrongful death in Ohio is 2 years. So, you must file a wrongful death claim within 2 years of the victim’s death. 

To succeed in a wrongful death lawsuit, you must prove the following:

  • Duty of care: You must prove that the medical professionals involved owed the victim a duty of care. Health professionals owe their patients a standard of care.
  • Breach of duty: You'll need to show that the action of the medical professional breached that duty of care. In other words, another anesthesiologist with their level of skill and experience would have acted differently.
  • Death: You have to show that the defendant's action caused the victim's death. It's not enough to show that the health professional was negligent. You must link their action to the victim's death.

Brain Injury or Other Common Injuries: Hire Medical Malpractice Lawyer

Brain injuries are a common fallout of anesthesia errors. The human brain requires a constant supply of oxygenated blood to keep the brain cells active. Anesthesia error can cause oxygen deprivation, where the brain doesn't get the much-needed oxygen for an extended period. This could result in brain damage.

If you or a loved one has suffered brain injuries or other complications from an anesthesia error, you should hire a medical malpractice lawyer. Anesthesia errors, like other medical malpractice cases, involve complex legal issues that you cannot handle on your own. A medical malpractice lawyer has dealt with anesthesia malpractice cases in the past. So they understand what to do to give you the best chances of winning your case.

Even if the insurance companies have offered you a settlement, you should still hire a medical malpractice attorney. The attorney will help you negotiate the maximum anesthesia malpractice settlement possible. 

If You've Experienced a Medical Mistake, Here's What to Do Next

If you're the victim of a medical mistake, it could feel overwhelming. The smart thing after you or a loved one has suffered anesthesia complications is to consult a medical malpractice attorney as soon as possible. 

Your medical malpractice case will succeed or fail on the strength of your evidence. When you hire a medical malpractice attorney, they can immediately investigate your case to understand what went wrong. Medical malpractice lawyers have the expertise, experience, and resources required to file an anesthesia lawsuit successfully.

The medical malpractice lawyers at The Moore Law Firm have years of experience in helping victims of anesthesia errors in Cincinnati and surrounding areas to get their life back together after anesthesia complications. Anesthesia errors can be devastating. You need someone to fight for you to help you recover compensation from those responsible for your injuries. Contact us today to find out your next steps.

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If you have been injured or have lost a loved one as a result of another person's negligence, you deserve to be fully compensated for your losses. The simple fact is that you should not be forced to pay the price for another person's careless or reckless actions.