When can a victim sue for medical malpractice because of anesthesia errors? | Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp

Medical malpractice due to anesthesia errors is a complex and serious issue that can have severe consequences for patients. Anesthesia is a critical component of many medical procedures, and when errors occur, they can result in life-threatening complications or long-term harm. Victims of anesthesia errors may have legal grounds to sue for medical malpractice under certain circumstances.

Medical malpractice involving anesthesia errors can encompass a wide range of situations and mistakes. Here are some common scenarios that may give rise to a medical malpractice lawsuit:

Failure to Obtain Informed Consent

Before administering anesthesia, it is essential for the medical team to obtain informed consent from the patient. This means providing the patient with a clear explanation of the procedure, its risks, potential complications, and available alternatives. If a patient was not adequately informed and did not provide consent or was not informed about the risks associated with anesthesia, this can lead to a malpractice claim.

Dosage Errors

Anesthesia medications must be administered with precision, as errors in dosage can result in adverse reactions, including overdose or underdose. Anesthesia providers must carefully calculate and administer the appropriate amount of medication based on the patient’s weight, medical history, and the type of procedure. If there is a dosage error, and it causes harm to the patient, it can be grounds for a malpractice lawsuit.

Failure to Monitor

During surgery or a medical procedure, continuous monitoring of the patient’s vital signs, including heart rate, blood pressure, oxygen levels, and temperature, is crucial. Anesthesia providers must be vigilant and respond promptly to any abnormalities. Failure to monitor the patient adequately or failure to respond to changes in vital signs can lead to complications and potential malpractice claims.

Intubation Errors

Intubation is the process of inserting a breathing tube into a patient’s airway to ensure proper oxygenation during surgery. Anesthesia providers must be skilled in intubation techniques. Errors during intubation, such as improper placement of the tube or damage to the patient’s airway, can result in serious injuries or fatalities.

Allergic Reactions

Some patients may have allergies or sensitivities to certain anesthesia medications. Anesthesia providers must review the patient’s medical history and allergies to avoid using medications that could cause adverse reactions. Administering an anesthesia drug to which the patient is allergic can lead to serious complications and liability for malpractice.

Anesthesia Awareness

Anesthesia awareness occurs when a patient regains consciousness during surgery or a medical procedure, experiencing sensations, pain, or distress while being unable to move or communicate. While it is relatively rare, anesthesia providers must take precautions to prevent anesthesia awareness. Failing to do so may result in a malpractice claim.

Delayed Recovery

After surgery, patients should be carefully monitored in the recovery room until they regain consciousness and are stable. Errors that lead to a prolonged or delayed recovery can result in harm to the patient and may be considered malpractice.

Pursuing Legal Action

To successfully sue for medical malpractice due to anesthesia errors, the victim must typically establish several key elements. Given the complexities of these types of cases, it is best to have a Virginia Beach malpractice attorney advocating for you:

  • Duty of care: The plaintiff must demonstrate that the anesthesia provider owed them a duty of care. This means showing that there was a doctor-patient relationship, and the provider was responsible for their anesthesia care.
  • Breach of standard of care: The plaintiff must prove that the anesthesia provider breached the standard of care expected in the medical community. This often involves presenting expert testimony to establish what a competent anesthesia provider would have done in similar circumstances.
  • Causation: It must be established that the anesthesia provider’s error or negligence directly caused harm or injury to the patient. This requires demonstrating a clear link between the breach of the standard of care and the patient’s injuries.
  • Damages: The plaintiff must have suffered measurable damages as a result of the anesthesia error. These damages may include medical expenses, pain and suffering, lost wages, and other related losses.