Do You Have a Medical Malpractice Case for Anesthesia Errors?
Anesthesia has come a long way. In the 1800s, a patient would be knocked out by ether and might never wake up. Today, things are safer. However, anesthesia does present risks even when administered properly. Unfortunately, anesthesia errors are all too common, and can cause or contribute to many medical malpractice cases.
There are three primary types of anesthesia:
- Local – where the doctor or dentist numbs your gums or skin before a procedure like a root canal or stitching a cut
- Regional – such as an epidural or spinal block
- General – where you are unconscious and will not remember anything
Local and regional anesthesia will sometimes be combined with other drugs to help you relax. It is therefore possible that you will not remember everything that happened. Even if you are having general anesthesia, it is not uncommon for the nurse to give you something in this class of drugs before you are taken to the operating room. This can of course make your experience less unpleasant, but it also makes you more vulnerable.
Some anesthesia errors are obvious, such as when a patient does not wake up (rare, but not unheard of), or takes days to wake up when the doctor expected it to take hours. Other errors are harder for a layperson to detect.
For example, it is perfectly reasonable to have a sore throat after you have been intubated (put on a respirator). However, intubation errors can have serious consequences, some of which may not be immediately apparent. If you have an epidural (common during labor), it can sometimes cause back and other problems that may not be obvious until weeks or months later, especially if you are caring for a newborn.
An experienced medical malpractice lawyer will be able to determine whether an anesthesia error is fully or partially to blame and if a medical professional — whether a doctor, nurse anesthetist, or even an orderly who moved your stretcher or helped you to walk to or from your procedure — might be liable to you.