Anesthesiologists perform a very important job. Without them, many medical procedures would range from very painful to completely impossible. Anesthesia is not without its dangers though. For many patients the thought of the anaesthesia portion of a procedure is just as worrisome as the thought of the surgery itself. To avoid getting involved in a medical malpractice issue, an anesthesiologist must be very thorough in assessing and monitoring patients before, during and after procedures. It is also extremely important for a patient’s anesthesia tolerance to be determined beforehand.
When a patient is put under general anaesthesia she is unresponsive and often cannot breathe on her own. This type of sedation can be given through IV or inhalation methods. There are also varying levels of sedation below this type where the patient is more easily roused or not completely unaware of his surroundings. It is up to the medical staff to determine the amount of sedation required to make the patient comfortable, but still maintain safety. There are also times when only regional or local anesthesia is required or requested. This type of anesthesia involves injecting the pain medication into a specific area of the body where pain relief is needed; the patient remains aware of her environment, but is relieved of pain sensation in the affected area.
The reason that anesthesia is so terrifying for so many patients is that it can have as many dangerous side effects as the medical procedure itself. Among the list of possible side effects are permanent injury, brain damage and death. Local anesthetic carries the lowest risk, but if too high a dose is administered it can have toxic effects which can affect necessary bodily functions such as breathing, heartbeat, and blood pressure. Regional anaesthetic is injected near bundles of nerves or the spine. It can have the same complications as local, if too much is given, but also runs the risk of causing nerve damage. If the nerves are damaged, pain, numbness, tingling and paralysis are all possible outcomes. Of course, the most serious is general anesthesia because it affects the entire body. Breathing issues are quite common, so it is very important that preparations are undertaken beforehand to ensure the patient receives the air he needs. Heart rate and blood pressure can also be affected, so they too must be closely monitored. Very rarely a patient can experience awareness during general anesthesia. Not surprisingly, this is a very traumatic experience for the patient.
Many safety measures are in place to bring patients through the anesthesia process unharmed. Sometimes though, errors occur and injury or death can result. If you or someone you care about has been affected by an anesthesia error, you should consult our experienced medical malpractice lawyers. Our team is very knowledgeable in dealing with these cases and will be happy to advise you. Just take a moment to fill out our form for a free assessment of your case.