No surgery is fun for a patient. In addition to the pain and duration of recovery, every surgery is associated with certain risks. As you lay on that table waiting for your surgery to begin, you may wonder what life will be like when you wake up. Will the surgery be successful? Will the recovery be quick? What type of side effects will you experience? Few patients, however, contemplate what is often the riskiest part of their surgery–the anesthesia. As many as forty million people will receive anesthesia as part of a medical procedure this year. Most of these experiences will be positive, yet some will be harmed by the negligence of medical professionals.
The Benefits of Anesthesia
Anesthesia is a medically-induced state necessary for surgery. This state results in an inability to feel pain, a loss of muscle reflexes, a loss of responsiveness, decreased stress response, and amnesia. This provides the benefit of sedating a patient in a manner that prevents the patient from feeling the pain of surgery or remembering any details. Without the use of anesthesia, a patient would experience severe pain and would have knowledge and memory of all the details of surgery.
Indeed, anesthesia is an essential tool for many types of surgery and medical procedures. Medical professionals may use one or more drugs to achieve a state of anesthesia. Common types of anesthesia include:
- general anesthesia;
- local anesthesia;
- spinal and epidural anesthesia (delivered through an injection next to the spinal cord);
- regional anesthesia; and
- dissociative anesthesia (which allows the patient to remain in a state of semi-consciousness).
Common Anesthesia Mistakes
An error in administering anesthesia may cause more harm than a surgical error, sometimes leading to death. An anesthesia error may be due to the negligence of a medical professional, such as an anesthesiologist or a nurse. Alternatively, an error may be caused by a malfunctioning medical device. In many instances, harm from an anesthesia mistake may be due to one of the following:
- Administering too much or too little of an anesthesia drug;
- Administering the wrong type of anesthesia drug;
- Failing to properly determine a patient’s medical history;
- Delaying to give anesthesia in a timely manner; or
- Failing to properly monitor the patient during surgery.
A common result of anesthesia errors is respiratory problems. Such problems may reduce the amount of oxygen a patient receives during surgery leading to brain damage, birth defects, or even death. Additionally, or alternatively, anesthesia errors may cause organ damage, heart problems, strokes, or spinal cord injuries.
Getting Help When You Have Been Harmed By Anesthesia Malpractice
If you or a loved one has suffered a brain injury, a birth defect, or another injury during a surgery involving anesthesia, you may need help to understand your rights and determine how to move forward. Any time that a medical professional has failed live up to his or her duty to properly care for you it is essential that you contact a skilled medical malpractice lawyer in Atlanta right away. The Atlanta medical malpractice attorneys at Goldstein and Hayes, P.C., have extensive experience helping those who have been harmed by the negligence of medical caretakers. We can answer your questions, assess your case, and help you hold those responsible for your injuries accountable.