Understanding Anesthesia Malpractice and Anesthesia Mistakes

When a patient approaches a doctor or hospital or any other health care provider, the doctor owes certain duties to the patient. The doctor owes a primary duty of reasonable care. Medical practitioners despite their good intentions, skill and training, may commit mistakes. They are humans after all. But the medical profession demands the medical practitioners to be attentive, competent, and careful in administering their services. The lives of people are at stake. Failure to exercise the required minimum care can result in negligence. Anesthesia malpractice is a type of medical malpractice. Anesthesia (or anaesthesia) generally refers to the use of an anesthetic drug to reduce or prevent pain during surgery or other medical procedures. Anesthesia malpractice is not restricted to the operating room or anesthesiologists. It can happen during pre-operative preparation, post-operatively in the recovery room and in any procedure room in a medical facility or doctor’s office.

Anesthesia mistakes can take place during childbirth and even before the simplest dental procedures and are not limited to anesthesiologists. Administration of anesthesia requires specialized training and certification; certainly, the seriousness and number of complications increases significantly outside of the setting of the anesthesiologist in the operating room. Dental visits, cosmetic surgery procedures, and a host of other out-patient scenarios are all common places for anesthesia to be used and in many such scenarios, the anesthesiologist is not present and the administration is done by the doctors, dentists, surgeons, nurses or other health care providers.

Anesthesia injuries can result from anesthesia overdose and/or failure of the doctor or anesthesiologist to adequately prep the patient or take effective medical precautions and/or properly monitor the patient. The anesthesia staff also has a duty to obtain informed consent from the patient.

The doctors, dentists, surgeons, nurses or other health care providers in the anesthesia care may be individually liable for personal injuries caused by their negligence. Even the hospital or medical facility can be made liable for the injuries. Sometimes, the liability may even lie outside the medical staff. Anesthesia equipment requires proper assembly and regular maintenance. This might be performed by hospital staff or by the equipment manufacturer’s service personnel. A vital piece of equipment may be out of service because of lack of maintenance, thus endangering the patients. The equipment itself may be defective, and that defect may not have been known to the staff. As with a medical negligence suit, expert testimony will be required in most cases to establish the standard of care, the breach of the standard of care, causation and damages. A claim for anesthesia malpractice must be filed within the prescribed statute of limitation which varies from state to state.

Anesthesia malpractice can have devastating consequences, including paralysis, coma, heart attack, stroke, asphyxia, severe brain damage and death. Victims of anesthesia malpractice can claim compensation for:

  • Pain, suffering, and emotional distress
  • Loss of wages and future loss of earning capacity
  • Permanent disability
  • Mental impairment
  • Medical bills
  • Spousal Loss of Consortium

If the victim dies, the survivors of the victim can file a claim for wrongful death.

If you or someone you know has been the victim of anesthesia malpractice, contact us at 888-244-5480. At Hastings, Cohan & Walsh, LLP we have knowledgeable and experienced attorneys waiting to help you through this difficult time.