Anesthesia Malpractice Lawsuit in Michigan
Before any surgical procedure, you’re likely to have a discussion about anesthesia with your surgeon. The purpose of anesthesia is to ensure that patients do not feel any pain or discomfort during their procedure. However, administering anesthesia of any kind is a delicate process with significant risks. If negligence comes into play, anesthesia malpractice could be extremely harmful, if not deadly, to a patient.
At Lipton Law, our principal goal is to fight for the rights of injured patients across the state of Michigan. When an anesthesia error occurs, negligent anesthesiologists can be held liable for the damages they cause an injured patient. If you or someone you love was injured due to anesthesia malpractice, contact the Michigan medical malpractice attorneys at Lipton Law. We will evaluate the facts of your case, gather evidence to support it, and take your case to court if necessary. To schedule a free consultation with us, please call our office at 248-557-1688 today.
What Is Anesthesia?
According to the National Institute of General Medical Sciences, anesthesia is “a medical treatment that prevents patients from feeling pain during procedures like surgery, certain screening and diagnostic tests, tissue sample removal, and dental work.” For many procedures, it is absolutely essential in order to perform crucial, life-saving surgeries and procedures. Cardiac surgery, for one, would not be possible without the use of general anesthesia.
Types of Anesthesia
Depending on the types of medical procedures, different types of anesthesia may be administered to the patient. Medical professionals who are trained in the administration of anesthesia are called anesthesiologists. In general, there are four types of anesthesia that they may use: general anesthesia, regional anesthesia, local anesthesia, and sedation (also called monitored anesthesia care). In the following sections, we outline the differences between each of these types.
This is what most people think about when they picture the use of anesthesia. General anesthesia affects the entire body, rendering the patient unconscious with no sensations or awareness of what is happening. Depending on the situation, several different medications may be used for general anesthesia. Some of these come in gaseous or vapor forms, while others are administered intravenously. Other effects of anesthesia include sleepiness, relaxed muscles, and pain reduction.
Regional anesthesia affects a particular area of the body, such as a patient’s entire leg. This allows doctors to perform surgical procedures on that part of the body without causing pain to the patient. It essentially blocks all sensations to the area, but it doesn’t put the patient to sleep. However, patients can also choose to be sedated while they have regional anesthesia.
Other terms for sedation include “twilight anesthesia” and “monitored anesthesia care.” Depending on the medical or surgical procedure being performed, anesthesiologists can administer different levels of sedation. This helps to keep the patient relaxed and drowsy enough to undergo medical procedures.
If you’ve ever undergone a dental procedure, you’ve likely had local anesthesia. Local anesthesia is generally administered through a cream or through an injection. It may also be used alongside sedation for certain outpatient procedures. One of the most popular medications for local anesthesia is lidocaine.
What Is Anesthesia Malpractice?
Anesthesiology malpractice claims can arise when an anesthesia provider fails to uphold the expected standard of care, resulting in patient injury or even wrongful death. Medical malpractice cases like these can be pursued against anesthesiologists, nurse anesthetists, and even hospitals. In serious cases of anesthesia malpractice, the potential outcomes could be permanent injury, brain damage, or wrongful death of the patient.
How Dangerous Is Anesthesia?
Patient safety should always be the top priority during any medical procedure, including the administration of anesthesia. However, negligent healthcare providers can be held responsible for any anesthesia injuries that they cause. Overall, anesthesia itself is a relatively safe practice. As with other medications and procedures, however, certain risk factors exist that may lead to an increased risk of heart attacks, strokes, pneumonia, and postoperative confusion. These risk factors are as follows.
- High blood pressure
- Obstructive sleep apnea
- Allergies to certain drugs
- Having a history of reactions to anesthesia
- Heavy alcohol use
- Conditions of the heart, lungs, or kidneys
- Taking medications that increase bleeding
It should be noted that most of these risks are more connected to the surgery than the anesthesia itself. Anesthesia is generally very safe in all forms.
Examples of Anesthesia Malpractice
Any mistake or negligent act by an anesthesia provider could be the basis of a medical malpractice lawsuit. In fact, many of the errors that we describe in the following sections can occur either before or after the procedure.
Errors During Intubation and Extubation
While under anesthesia, patients’ muscles don’t move. Even the muscles that allow us to breathe stop functioning. As a result, each patient must have a breathing tube to ensure they get enough oxygen. If an anesthesiologist makes a mistake while placing or removing the breathing tube, this could result in very serious complications, such as permanent brain damage.
Patient Monitoring Issues
Anesthesiologists must not only administer the anesthesia, but they must also adequately monitor patients to ensure that their vitals and oxygen levels are normal. Failing to monitor patients or turning off monitoring equipment can be considered medical negligence.
Anesthesia awareness is probably one of the worst fears that patients have when it comes to anesthesia. If a patient receives too little anesthesia, or if they receive it too late, they could wake up while still on the surgical table. They may feel extreme pain, terror, the inability to breathe, and other very serious complications. In the worst cases of anesthesia awareness, patients could develop post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, and other problems.
Before a surgery ever begins, it is critical for surgeons and anesthesiologists to conduct a thorough medical history examination. They must also communicate with patients on how to prepare for surgery. This includes telling them not to eat or drink anything for a certain period of time before the operation. When a medical professional fails to take a medical history or fails to prepare a patient for surgery, this could lead to serious complications or a serious allergic reaction.
Doctors also must monitor patients to ensure that they don’t aspirate food or liquid into their lungs. Because patients lose control of their esophagus, medical professionals must monitor this to ensure that no aspiration pneumonia occurs.
Anesthesiologists must also ensure that they administer the right amount of medication to each patient. Giving too little anesthesia or too much anesthesia can both lead to serious issues.
What Causes Anesthesia Errors?
So how do these anesthesia errors happen? There are a few critical mistakes that doctors and anesthesiologists can make, including the following.
- Inattention from doctors and anesthesia providers
- Administering the wrong dosage
- Failing to follow the expected standard of care
- Performing incorrect procedures
- Having errors in judgment
- Failing to take a patient’s medical records
Injuries from Anesthesia Malpractice
There are many different injuries that can occur to a patient if a provider makes an anesthesia error. While some injuries are minor, others can result in lifelong complications for patients, or even wrongful death. The following injuries are some of the most common issues that result from anesthesia errors.
- Cardiac complications, such as heart attacks during anesthesia
- Neurological injuries
- Hospital infections after anesthesia
- Anesthesia overdose
- Temporary mental confusion
- Extreme physical pain
- Nerve injury
- Sleep disorders
- Tooth damage
- Organ damage
- Nerve damage
- Damage to the vocal cords
In some anesthesia claims, it is possible for doctors to cause anesthesia overdose in their patients. When this happens, patients could experience the following side effects.
- Physical or mental impairment
In the most serious cases, patients may even go into a comatose state. They could even have permanent physical or mental health problems
Can You File an Anesthesiologist Malpractice Lawsuit?
Absolutely. If you or someone you know suffered injury, illness, or wrongful death from an anesthesia error, you may be entitled to compensation. As with other medical malpractice cases, victims can file a claim to recover compensation for the injuries they suffered. If an anesthesia mistake results in the death of the patient, their family members can file a wrongful death claim.
The best way to ensure that your voice is heard is to work with a medical malpractice lawyer from the very beginning. The attorneys at Lipton Law have extensive experience when it comes to cases involving even the most serious complications from medical mistakes. We are here to provide compassion for our clients while also aggressively advocating on their behalf in the courtroom.
Not only will we carefully examine the facts of your case, we will also gather evidence to support your claim and walk you through every step of the claims process. From start to finish, our attorneys will be there for you to support you during this difficult time.
Contact a Michigan Medical Malpractice Attorney Today
If you or someone you love suffered a patient injury based on anesthesia errors, you may have a valid medical malpractice claim. The Michigan medical malpractice lawyers at Lipton Law are here to offer their decades of experience to help you fight for your right to just compensation. Our seasoned trial lawyers are compassionate toward clients, yet aggressive in the courtroom. We have what it takes to win cases, and our track record reflects that. To schedule your free consultation with an experienced anesthesia malpractice lawyer, call our office at 248-557-1688 today.