General anesthesia causes a loss of consciousness during surgery, eliminating pain and erasing the memory of going through such an invasive procedure. Although general anesthesia has been in use for more than 100 years, anesthesiologists and other medical professionals still make administration errors on a regular basis. Because anesthesia errors can lead to cardiac arrest, impaired respiratory function, and other serious problems, it is important to talk to a personal injury attorney if your anesthesiologist makes one of these mistakes.
1. Administering the Wrong Anesthetic
If you have heart disease, kidney disease, or respiratory problems, your anesthesiologist should choose an anesthetic agent that will not aggravate your pre-existing condition. Age, body weight, and anticipated duration of the procedure are also important considerations when selecting the right anesthetic. If your anesthesiologist does not read your chart carefully, there is a chance you will receive an anesthetic agent that puts your health at risk. You might even have an allergic reaction to the drug, causing you to go into anaphylactic shock during surgery.
2. Using Defective Medical Equipment
Anesthesiologists rely on IV lines, mechanical respirators, tubing, suction devices, and monitoring equipment to administer general anesthesia and monitor its effects on their patients. When all of the equipment works properly, an anesthesiologist is able to deliver anesthesia at exactly the right rate and pressure. Unfortunately, anesthesia equipment sometimes fails, causing an anesthetic agent to enter the bloodstream too quickly or at a higher pressure than it should. Your anesthesiologist is responsible for checking all of the equipment in the operating room before and during your surgery to prevent this type of error.
3. Failure to Provide Adequate Monitoring
Your anesthesiologist must monitor your blood pressure, respiratory rate, and heart rate throughout your surgery. The anesthesia team should also observe you for signs of distress during the procedure. Failure to provide adequate monitoring increases the risk that a patient will suffer a stroke or heart attack during surgery. A patient who is not monitored adequately can also go into irreversible cardiac or respiratory arrest, increasing the risk of death or permanent impairment.
4. Anesthesia Awareness
When you receive general anesthesia, you should not feel anything or have any awareness during your procedure. One of the mistakes anesthesiologists make is not administering enough anesthesia, resulting in a phenomenon called anesthesia awareness. If you do not receive the right amount of anesthetic, there is a chance you will feel pain during your surgery or remember some of the events that happened during your procedure. This can be very traumatic, especially if you are unable to let your surgeon know you are aware of what is going on.
5. IV Infiltration
Many anesthetic agents are administered via an intravenous line, which consists of a thin catheter inserted into one of the veins. If the intravenous line is inserted correctly, each drug administered enters the circulatory system. If your anesthesiologist does not check your IV line before administering anesthesia, there is a chance the anesthetic agent will enter a muscle instead of a vein, a complication known as infiltration. IV infiltration can cause pain and tissue damage, making it a serious anesthesia error.
Doctors use general anesthesia on thousands of patients per year, but that doesn't stop them from making serious mistakes that compromise the health of patients. If your anesthesiologist made one of these errors during your surgery, contact a medical malpractice attorney right away or visit a site like http://www.hvlawfirm.com. While you wait to meet with an attorney, write down as many details about the incident as you remember. Documenting your experience as soon as possible can help you prevail in court should you decide to file a lawsuit against the anesthesiologist who made the error.
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