Friday, November 25, 2016


When doctors take the Hippocratic Oath, they promise to work hard to protect the health of their patients. Unfortunately, doctors are only human, and sometimes they make mistakes. One of the most serious mistakes they can make involves the administration of anesthesia. Anesthesia errors, which may involve local anesthesia, general anesthesia, spinal anesthesia, epidural anesthesia, regional anesthesia, and dissociative anesthesia, are among the most common forms of medical negligence in the United States.

Anesthesia errors include:

Administering too little of a drug (anesthetic awareness)
Administering too much of a drug (anesthetic overdose)
Anesthetic equipment malfunction or failure
Injecting anesthesia at the wrong rate
Delayed delivery of anesthesia
Delivering the wrong anesthetic drug
Failing to properly monitor the patient
Improper reversal of the anesthetic state
Anesthesiologists have an extremely important job – to calculate the correct amount of an anesthetic drug based on a person’s weight, overall health, and the type of procedure they will undergo, and to administer the drug accordingly. Because there are so many factors that an anesthesiologist must consider, it is no surprise that there is so much room for error. When a medical error arises from negligence and results in serious injury or death to a patient, the patient and/or his or her family may have a medical malpractice claim.

Potential complications of anesthesia error include:

Heart attack
Nerve injury
Blood clots/embolism
Brain damage
Cardiovascular collapse
Respiratory difficulty
Allergic reaction
Damage to larynx
Nausea and vomiting
Anesthesia awareness (in which the patient is conscious but unable to move or communicate during their surgery)
Stroke (potentially leading to lasting brain damage)
Determining Liability in Anesthesia Error Cases
In order to prove medical negligence, it must be shown that the doctor performed an act or omission that deviates from the accepted standard of medical care – in other words, the doctor acted in a manner inconsistent with how another doctor reasonably would have acted in the same situation. Proving this usually requires the testimony of an expert medical witness.

If the anesthesiologist is employed by the hospital, the hospital can be held liable for any negligence committed by their employee. Similarly, if the anesthesiologist was an independent contractor, the hospital may still be liable for negligent hiring and supervision of the doctor. In cases involving an equipment failure, the hospital may be held responsible for failing to properly maintain and repair its equipment.

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