Have you or a loved one suffered from severe or fatal health problems because of an anesthesia error? You may be looking for answers to common concerns like:

  • Who can be held accountable for the error?
  • Should we consider a medical malpractice claim?
  • What types of damages can we recover?

Our Philadelphia medical malpractice lawyers can help you learn about your legal options in a free consultation.

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Patients who are about to go into surgery often struggle with anxiety immediately before the procedure. Many patients may worry that something could go wrong with the anesthesia – such as waking up in the middle of the procedure because the dosage was too low. While we expect would expect 21st-century medication and anesthetics to be consistently reliable, unfortunately, this is not always the case. Each year in the United States, anesthesia complications are the underlying cause of approximately 34 deaths and a contributing factor in another 281.

If your family has been affected by an anesthesia error, it’s important to seek accountability from the parties responsible. Depending on the circumstances of your incident, either the hospital or an individual anesthesiologist may be held liable for damages in a medical malpractice lawsuit.


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Types Of Anesthesia

Anesthetics are drugs administered for surgeries and other medical procedures, which are used to numb the body to pain, reduce muscle reflexes, and decrease the body’s stress response. There are several different forms of anesthesia, and mistakes made during any of these forms can result in serious health problems for the patient.

Categories of anesthesia include:

  • General anesthesia – The patient is made unconscious for the procedure
  • Local anesthesia – A specific body part or bodily area is made numb, such as a tooth
  • Regional anesthesia – A larger area of the body is numbed, such as an arm or leg

Common Errors

Anesthesia errors may be relatively rare, but they still affect hundreds of people each year. Most medical professionals involved with anesthesia consistently do their jobs well, but sometimes preventable errors result in serious complications or even death.

Some of the most common anesthesia errors include:

  • Administering too much anesthesia – Overdoses of anesthetics were attributable to 46.6% of anesthesia-related deaths between 1999-2005
  • Administering too little anesthesia, resulting in anesthesia awareness (being conscious during the procedure)
  • Complications of anesthesia during pregnancy, labor, and delivery
  • Administering anesthesia too late
  • Administering anesthesia to a patient who’s allergic to the drug
  • Failure to anticipate and prevent harmful interactions with other drugs
  • Failure to properly advise patients how to prepare, such as refraining from eating before the procedure
  • Failure to properly administer oxygen and monitor patient’s oxygen levels
  • Complications caused by defective medical devices and equipment

When a medical error during the anesthesia process leads to health problems for the patient, the patient and their family should consider filing a medical malpractice claim against whoever was responsible. Determining how the error occurred and who was responsible usually requires working with an experienced medical malpractice lawyer who has connections with medical experts who can investigate your claim.

Common Complications

Anesthesia errors can result in several forms of health problems for the patient, such as:

  • Pain following the operationpatient receiving anesthesia
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Respiratory problems
  • Tooth damage because of improper placement of the breathing tube (intubation) during the procedure
  • Nerve injuries
  • Brain damage from lack of oxygen
  • Anesthesia awareness
  • Sore throat and larynx damage
  • Allergic reaction to the anesthetic
  • Pneumonia
  • Blood clots
  • Heart attacks
  • Death

Some complications, like pain or nausea, are relatively common and minor side effects which will fade away shortly following the operation. But other more serious complications listed here have the potential to cause long-term health issues, and in some cases, wrongful death.

Who Is Liable For Errors?

In order to have grounds for a malpractice claim following an anesthesia error, you must prove that medical professional entrusted with your care failed to exercise reasonable care and that this failure was a major contributing factor to related health problems. Your lawyer will work with an expert medical witness who can testify on your behalf in court by defining the medical standard of care and explaining how the medical professional named in your lawsuit failed to meet this standard. Finally, he or she will explain how this failure caused your injuries and outline the economic and noneconomic losses you’ve suffered as a result.

In some cases, anesthesia errors occur not because of medical negligence, but defective medical equipment, drugs, or devices. In these cases, the manufacturers of these products can be held liable for damages in a products liability lawsuit.

Hospitals and healthcare facilities can also be held liable for the conduct of their employees. In many malpractice suits, both individual employees and their employers are named as defendants.

Filing A Malpractice Claim

If you’re looking to secure financial support and hold a negligent medical professional accountable after you or a loved one has suffered from preventable anesthesia complications, the Philadelphia and Delaware County medical malpractice lawyers at Monheit Law want to help. It’s important to educate yourself on your legal options and to find a firm with a proven track record of helping malpractice victims secure financial compensation.

We’re prepared to use our experience and resources within the medical community to help you gather evidence, find witnesses to testify on your behalf, and speak on your behalf in settlement negotiations or the courtroom. To find out more about your legal rights as the victim of medical negligence, get in touch with us today for a free consultation.

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