Due to the development of better sedation drugs and more sophisticated means of patient monitoring, the mortality rate from anesthesia has dropped significantly since it was first declared a public health problem 50 years ago. Anesthesia mistakes still happen, however, affecting the lives of tens of thousands of patients every year.
Lapses in Protocol
Anesthesiologists must follow a complex routine each time a patient has a sedation procedure. They need to administer not only the proper drug but also the right amount. Monitoring begins the minute a patient enters the hospital, and the anesthesiologist conducts an interview with the patient to confirm that he or she has no known risk factors.
When these steps are not followed correctly, the following errors can occur:
- The anesthesiologist overlooks risk factors when deciding which medicine to use.
- The patient receives too much medicine during the procedure, which can lead to coma or even death.
- The patient receives too little medicine, leading to what is called “anesthesia awareness,” a sensation of being conscious during the procedure but having no ability to convey this awareness to others in the operating room.
Improper Training and Human Error
In some cases, the steps may be followed correctly, but the anesthesiologist makes mistakes along the way. Lack of practical skill or proper training in the use of sophisticated equipment can lead to mistakes, as can being tired on the job or having some personal problem that affects concentration.
A lack of training and human error can lead to these common anesthesia mistakes:
- Mistaking one medicine for another and administering the wrong drug.
- Causing injury to a patient during intubation or failing to maintain a clear airway during the procedure.
- Misreading vital signs during patient monitoring.
- Operating monitoring equipment incorrectly, causing a false reading.
- Failing to calculate the proper dosage of the medicine.
- Being inattentive during the procedure or initial patient interview.
If you or someone you love sustained an injury due to an anesthesiologist’s negligence or carelessness, call or email the team at the Mellino Law Firm to schedule a free, confidential consultation.