Virginia Beach & Norfolk Personal Injury Lawyers Discuss Anesthesiology Errors

An anesthesiologist is a trained medical professional who is tasked with giving safe and effective drugs to patients before they undergo a serious medical procedure. However, if the anesthesiologist improperly administers drugs to a patient, the result can be horrific and even result in death. If this happens, the anesthesiologist and medical staff could be accountable for their negligent or reckless conduct. One thing is certain: If you are harmed and need a Virginia Beach or Norfolk anesthesiology error attorney, the team at Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp is ready to stand by your side and help you today.

Unlike most other consulting doctors who write a report outlining their care, the anesthesiologist only fills in a checklist or flow chart that is supposed to catalogue your medications, oxygenation, pulse and other information.  Deciphering this medical sheet is not easy and requires professional review.

But before we get into anesthesia errors, let’s provide some background information.

Why Turn to Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp?

  • At Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp, our team handles only personal injury law. This has helped us gain the experience necessary to handle complex anesthesiologist error cases.
  • We have been injury law leaders in Virginia in terms of multimillion-dollar settlements and jury verdicts since 1985.
  • We handle every case with a personalized approach, which means we take the time to get to know the goals and needs of every client that comes through our door.

What Exactly is Anesthesia?

This is when you are put into a medically-induced coma as a result of using one or more general anaesthetic agents. There are a variety of medications that could be administered including, but not limited to:

  • Anaspaz
  • Diprivan
  • Emia
  • Fentanyl
  • HyoMax
  • Levin
  • Lidocaine
  • Nitrous Oxide
  • Propofol
  • Prostigmin

The objective of these agents is to ensure you go to sleep and not awake during a surgical procedure, amnesia, analgesia, relaxation of skeletal muscles, and loss of control of reflexes of the autonomic nervous system.

The best combination of these anesthetic agents is usually determined by the anesthesiologist in consultation with you and the medical practitioner performing the operative procedure. If an improper dosage of the agents is administered, this can lead to serious complications.

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Most Common Anesthesia Errors

Researchers at Johns Hopkins have stated that medical errors are the third leading cause of death in this country. Many patients do not realize that anesthesia mistakes are actually quite common, and they can lead to significant complications for a patient. Data from the Patient Safety Authority indicates that millions of people undergo general anesthesia each year across the United States. However, they also indicated that around 100 of these patients experience an anesthesia error every day.

Anesthesia mistakes can occur in a wide variety of ways. The reality is that anesthesiologists are highly trained physicians, but they can still make mistakes just like any other medical provider. Some of the main reasons that anesthesia mistakes occur include

  • A failure to obtain a patient’s medical history
  • Failure to check for contraindications between patient medications
  • Anesthesia medication dosing error
  • Delayed delivery of anesthesia
  • Failure to monitor patient vitals during a procedure
  • Dangerously prolonged sedation
  • Failure to respond to anesthesia complications
  • Failing to monitor a patient after anesthesia
  • Faulty medical equipment during anesthesia procedure

Types of Complications that Can Occur

Complications from anesthesia errors vary according to the type of anesthesia administered. If local anesthesia is given at too high a dose, it is toxic and can affect your heartbeat, breathing, and other bodily functions. A local anesthesia can cause nerve damage if it is injected too close to a nerve or spinal cord. With general anesthesia, there is the risk of heart attack or stroke. There are also additional complications that can arise from being intubated, which is when a tube is placed down your throat to assist your breathing. Under general anesthesia, your throat is numbed so your gagging reflex is not functioning, which increases the risk of inhaling liquid into your lungs and essentially suffocating.

Our personal injury law firm recently handled in anesthesiology mistake case where an anesthesiologist was attempting endotracheal intubation to try and establish the airway for our client (who was about to undergo surgery). Unfortunately, after repeated attempts, our client had no air and the anesthesiologist could not establish an emergency airway by a tracheostomy which he urgently attempted. By the time a surgeon established a tracheostomy, which restored his oxygen, our client had been without oxygen between seven and 15 minutes. This caused severe brain damage.

Despite every effort by the doctors after the catastrophe, our client was essentially in a vegetative state and died about two weeks later. In assisting the family to prove medical malpractice, the lawyers with our firm studied anesthesiology standards of care, and consulted with numerous medical experts in the field. This is the kind of medical malpractice experience that our personal injury firm prides itself on bringing to every medical malpractice case that we take on. The case was settled after two years of preparation during the litigation process.

Catastrophic Injuries that Can Result from an Anesthesia Error

If there is an anesthesia error, one of the worst complications is a prolonged loss of oxygen. Keep in mind that three minutes or longer without oxygen routinely results in serious and potentially permanent brain damage from cerebral hypoxia.

If your loved one suffered an extended loss of oxygen and are now permanently disabled due to hypoxia, you probably have grounds to file a medical malpractice claim against the anesthesiologist, depending on the circumstances that led to the oxygen deprivation.

Dealing with Difficult Intubation (DI) Cases

Intubation is where the anesthesiologist places a device into your throat, down into the trachea. Usually, but not always, intubation is endotracheal. A difficult intubation is a term used by anesthesiologists and they use it when a patient presents a case of being a dificult intubation. Once it is determined that you or your loved one is a difficult intubation, they are required to follow a specific protocol, or “decision tree”. This decision tree is a one-page document by the American Society of Anesthesiology (ASA). If an anesthesiologist deviates from the decision, it may be grounds for a medical malpractice claim

Compensation Available to Victims of Anesthesia Mistakes

There might be various types of compensation available to victims of anesthesia mistakes in Virginia Beach and Norfolk. Our anesthesia error attorneys work diligently to recover both economic and non-economic losses on behalf of our clients. This includes, but is not limited to, coverage for the following:

  • All medical bills related to the anesthesia mistake
  • Lost income if they cannot work while they are recovering
  • General household out-of-pocket expenses
  • Pain and suffering damages
  • Loss of enjoyment of life damages

The total amount of compensation available to anesthesia mistake victims will vary depending on the facts and circumstances surrounding their particular claim. An attorney will work with trusted medical and economic experts who can properly calculate total expected losses.

Call a Virginia Beach & Norfolk Anesthesiology Error Attorney Today

If you or somebody you care about has been injured due to an anesthesia mistake in Virginia Beach or Norfolk, reach out to the team at Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp for help as soon as possible. Our attorneys have the resources necessary to conduct a complete investigation into the claim and help recover maximum compensation. We want to make sure that every client is treated fairly if they have been harmed due to the negligence of the medical professional. When you need a Virginia Beach or Norfolk anesthesiology error attorney, you can contact us for a free consultation by filling out the contact form below or calling us at (833) 997-1774.