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When anesthesia goes wrong: Common errors

On Behalf of | Mar 26, 2024 | Medical Malpractice

Anesthesia has transformed medicine, and anesthesiologists have a big job. However, it’s a mistake not to remember that anesthesia is inherently dangerous.

Anesthesia errors happen for numerous reasons, and they’re more common than most people realize. It’s estimated that 2 out of every 100 patients experience some kind of adverse drug event, and more than half are considered “highly preventable.”

So, what leads to many anesthesia errors? Here are some common issues:

Dosage errors

Anesthesia has to be calculated carefully based on a patient’s weight, age, medical history and the type of procedure being done. Failure to account for all the variables or a simple mistake reading the label on a muscle relaxant, sedative or analgesic because a doctor is distracted can lead to disaster.

Failure to monitor

Again, all it takes is a momentary distraction for a patient to experience a serious adverse event while under anesthesia. Anesthesiologists have to constantly monitor a patient’s vital signs, including their heart rate, blood pressure, oxygen saturation and more. Any neglect can lead to hypoxia and brain damage or cardiac arrest.

Poor patient assessment

Failure to properly assess a patient’s medical history, allergies, current medications and overall health can cause a doctor to overlook risk factors that can lead to complications once anesthesia is introduced.

Communication breakdowns

Effective communication among members of the anesthesia team, including surgeons, anesthesiologists, nurses and support staff, is crucial for patient safety. Miscommunication or lack of clarity regarding a patient’s surgical plan can lead to critical errors.

Errors have consequences, and medical errors can lead to untold grief for patients and their families. If you have been injured or a loved one has been lost due to an anesthesiology error, it may help to seek informed legal guidance about your situation.