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4 Common Causes of Anesthesia Injury Cases

Mellino Law Firm

Perhaps you lost a spouse while he was undergoing a surgery under anesthesia at your local hospital; you’re wondering whether careless or negligent care might have been to blame. Or maybe you woke up during a recent dental procedure or surgery and experienced terrible pain, which traumatized you. Or maybe anesthesia caused a terrible allergic reaction.

Anesthesia errors, fortunately, have become less frequent over the past 30 years, thanks in part to better science and also to better hospital processes. Still, thousands of patients every year suffer needless trauma and injury due to anesthesia accidents. Here are four possible explanations for why your disaster might have occurred:

1. An untrained or under-trained individuals might have monitored (or even participated) in aspects of the anesthesia process.

If a doctor uses more anesthesia than necessary, the patient can die or fall into a coma. Conversely, if she uses less than necessary, the patient can awaken during surgery. Given these dire possible outcomes, you might think that a skilled technician would always be at the helm. However, in many cases, the process — or at least parts of the process — falls into the hands of non-doctors, such as nurses or even completely unqualified hospital staff who may not know how to read instruments properly or react in an emergency.

2. A chart mix-up or other clerical error lead to disaster.

To titrate the appropriate cocktail of medicines, the anesthesiologist needs accurate and precise information about the patient’s history, prognosis and current care. For instance, if you are on a drug for high cholesterol or a beta-blocker — and that information does not appear on your chart — the anesthesiologist could prescribe you drugs that could interact harmfully with your medicines.

3. A problem with the anesthesia medicine or equipment caused harm.

Sometimes, the hospital staff does everything correctly, but the machines designed to monitor or titrate the drugs can fail. A machine failure can result from a failure to calibrate or clean the equipment. Or the equipment might be old. Or the equipment might be dogged by fundamental software or hardware problems.

4. Fatigue, drugs, alcohol or other “human factors” might have contributed to the error.

For instance, an overworked nurse — sleep-deprived from a very long shift — might have not have noticed signs that your husband was exhibiting signs of distress while under anesthesia. In such a case, the nurse as well as the hospital in charge of monitoring her sleep schedule and/or training her could be liable for the injuries and damages.

To get to the root of your anesthesia error case, please call our compassionate and strategic attorneys for a free consultation now.

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