Anesthesia is a commonly used drug in the field of medicine. In fact, health care practitioners across all fields — ranging from dental to surgical — rely on anesthesia to not only ensure the comfort of patients but also, to make their jobs easier. When a person receives anesthesia, he or she experiences a temporary loss of sensation, control and/or awareness, all outcomes that help streamline what are likely to be complex and painful procedures.
That said, for all the good anesthesia does, it does come with a few drawbacks. One major drawback is the fact that, when administered incorrectly, it can be dangerous, if not deadly.
The only people who can legally administer anesthesia are licensed anesthesiologists. To become an anesthesiologist, a person must go to school for between 12 to 15 years. The lengthy process — which includes at least eight years of traditional schooling, four years as a resident and the time it takes to receive certification and licensure — is critical, as there is no room for error in the administration of the drug. If an anesthesia mistake does occur, it can result in life-altering or fatal consequences.
If you or a loved one is the victim of an anesthesia error, know that you do have rights. There is a high probability that the anesthesiologist or a member of your medical team committed a preventable error, in which case, you may have a lawsuit on your hands. If this is the case, it is crucial that you work with an experienced Utah anesthesia error attorney, as medical malpractice cases are time sensitive and complex.
What Constitutes an Anesthesia Error?
Anesthesia errors are mistakes that occur either during the administration of anesthesia or that affect how a patient responds to anesthesia. Though these types of errors can range in nature, below are mistakes that commonly crop up on medical malpractice claims:
- Adverse interaction with other drugs
- Anesthesia overdose
- Adverse reactions to the drug due to doctor oversight
- Delayed delivery of anesthesia
- Secondary damages due to defective equipment (such as rusty needles or previously used needles)
The outcome of each of these types of errors can prove disastrous. If you know this all too well, consult with an anesthesia lawyer in Utah who can help you understand your rights and get you on the path to recovery.
Why Do Anesthesia Errors Occur?
Anesthesia errors occur for any number of reasons, ranging from lack of knowledge regarding a patient’s allergies to sheer oversight on a doctor’s part. Anesthesia errors can also occur during the administration process. Common reasons anesthesia mistakes occur are as follows:
- Doctors administer too much anesthesia and, therefore, cause an anesthesia overdose
- Doctors administer too little anesthesia, resulting in the patient being aware during a procedure but unable to communicate awareness
- Doctors fail to notice and/or recognize the signs of a patient’s adverse reaction to the drug and/or adverse reactions between the anesthesia and other drugs
- Doctors fail to equip patients with any or complete pre-anesthesia instructions
- Anesthesiologist delivers the wrong type of anesthesia
- Anesthesiologist delays the delivery of anesthesia
- Doctors fail to ascertain that a patient does not have allergies to certain types of anesthesia
- Doctors fail to closely monitor patients for signs of wakefulness or signs of reactions during a procedure
- Doctors fail to consider the consequences of delivering anesthesia to patients in certain positions, such as positions that may reduce blood supply to the brain
- Anesthesiologists use faulty or outdated equipment to deliver anesthesia
If any of these errors occur, it is critical that a patient’s medical team recognize the mistake and take steps to remedy it as soon as possible. Even if doctors recognize an error early on, however, there is no guarantee they can prevent or undo the damage.
Consequences of Anesthesia Errors
The severity of anesthesia injuries cannot be emphasized enough. Injuries that arise because of anesthesia errors can be permanent and lifelong if they do not prove fatal. Anesthesia injuries that can change a person’s life but not end it are as follows:
- Brain damage from lack of oxygen
- Postoperative persistent pain
- Tooth damage
- Heart palpitations
- Nerve injury
- Breathing issues
- Airway trauma
- Injured lung
- Blood clots
If you or a loved one live with long-term injuries and trauma because of an anesthesia error, do not assume you must accept the consequences and move on. You do have legal rights and options, which a Utah anesthesia lawyer can help you explore.
When Anesthesia Errors Become Deadly
Certain side effects of anesthesia errors often result in patient death. While a terrifying thought, death is not an uncommon consequence of anesthesia mistakes. Conditions that lead to death while a patient is under include stroke, heart attack, brain damage, anaphylaxis and airway trauma. If you lost a loved one due to the development of any of these conditions while he or she was under, you may have more incentive than ever to pursue a legal claim.
Allergic Reactions and Anesthesia
Though uncommon, some people do experience hypersensitivity to anesthesia drugs. These reactions — otherwise known as allergic reactions — occur when the immune system overreacts to what is an otherwise harmless substance. As with any type of allergic reaction, an allergic response to anesthesia can range in severity, from mild or moderate to extreme. As is the case with anaphylaxis, an allergic reaction can prove fatal.
Symptoms of a relatively innocent allergic reaction to anesthesia may include itching, skin rash, hives or swelling of the lips and tongue. Some patients may develop nausea or vomiting. Though uncomfortable, these reactions are usually short-lived and have little to no long-term effects on a patient’s life. When a reaction is more severe, however, so too are the side effects. Signs of a severe allergic reaction are as follows:
- Nausea, vomiting and diarrhea
- Light-headedness or feeling faint
- Shallow or quick breathing
- Too slow or too fast of a heartbeat
- Clammy skin
- Loss of consciousness
Unfortunately, if many of these side effects are allowed to continue, they could prove fatal for patients. This is just one of many reasons it is critical that medical teams monitor anesthesia patients from the moment the anesthesiologist administers the drug until long after it wears off.
In situations in which neither a patient nor medical team had prior knowledge of anesthesia sensitivity, there is little to nothing a medical team can do to prevent an adverse reaction. However, when a medical team is aware of a patient’s allergies, administering anesthesia could constitute a form of medical malpractice.
Consult With a Utah Anesthesia Lawyer
If you or a loved one is the victim of a preventable anesthesia error, you have substantial rights under Utah law. Those rights grant you the ability to pursue compensation from the at-fault doctor or medical organization and, in the process, hold him, her or it accountable.
That said, just because you have legal rights does not mean you will have an easy time asserting them. Medical malpractice cases are complex in every regard, including how and when you can file to the requirements for the case itself. Not only that, but your opponent likely has substantial resources to put toward a lawsuit, which you may not. An attorney who has ample experience with anesthesia error cases can help you navigate the claims process and pursue the compensation to which the law entitles you, all while helping you overcome the challenges inherent in a case of this magnitude. To get the help you need and deserve at this difficult time in your life, schedule a free consultation with Siegfried & Jensen today.
Finding the Right Utah Medical Malpractice Attorney For You
Count on Siegfried and Jensen’s experienced medical malpractice lawyers to fight for you.
If you’ve been injured as a result of a mistake with anesthesia, you should talk to a medical malpractice attorney immediately. Medical malpractice cases can be very complex, and it takes specialized legal and medical expertise to prove liability on the part of the healthcare provider. In addition, your claim must be filed within a certain period of time after the injury happened. If you wait beyond this “statute of limitations”, you will not be able to file a legal claim.
When you work with our experienced injury attorneys, you can expect the best:
- We’ll answer your questions and address your concerns throughout the entire process.
- We’ll pull together the information needed to build your case, including medical records, insurance policies, expert testimony, etc.
- We’ll make sure that everybody plays by the rules and treats you fairly.
- We’ll help you get what you need to rebuild your life and move forward.
If you or a loved one has been hurt by medical malpractice, contact Siegfried and Jensen today for a free, no pressure consultation or for more information