Lives at Risk When Putting Patients Under Anesthesia

June 27, 2017 | Steve Crandall
Lives at Risk When Putting Patients Under Anesthesia

A lot of patients worry about anesthesia. Perhaps it’s discomfort with the notion of being brought to an unconscious state where they cannot feel pain, and then returned to awareness with no memory of the intervening events. While anesthesia, when properly administered, has become safer in recent decades, errors persist, leading to grim outcomes for patients. In 2013, the death rate in the US from anesthesia errors was three per 10,000 surgeries.

Causes and types of anesthesia errors

Trying to assign causation to accidents can be challenging, but in a medical setting the amount of assiduous record-keeping that accompanies even the most minor procedure can be extremely helpful to researchers and analysts. In the case of anesthesia errors, most issues fell into one or more of three categories: lack of monitoring, failure to follow proper procedures, and problems with equipment.  As we look at the most common types of anesthesia errors, it becomes clear which cause or causes are the most likely to have been at play:
    • Failing to emphasize the importance of preoperative protocols
    • Failing to properly monitor patients before, during, and post anesthesia
    • Failing to fully read the patient’s medical history or interactions with the patient’s medications
    • Allergic reactions
    • Utilizing defective equipment
    • Incorrectly intubating the patient
    • Administering excessive amounts of anesthesia for the particular procedure or patient’s needs
    • Administering insufficient amounts of anesthesia for the particular procedure or patient’s needs

Effects of anesthesia errors

Not every anesthesia error leads to permanent issues for the patient. Some can be minor, annoying, or even dismissed entirely. However, as the effects of anesthesia are cumulative over a lifetime, any over dosage or misuse can lead to problems in the future if the patient needs to go under anesthesia again. Particularly for patients who are already seriously ill, the repercussions of anesthesia errors can become acute. Patients under a year of age or older than 65 are at the greatest risk of serious complications or death. Other not insubstantial risks include:
    • Damage to the circulatory system
    • Damage to the nervous system
    • Cardiovascular collapse
    • Cardiac rhythm issues
    • Asphyxia (lack of oxygen)
    • Brain damage
    • Spinal cord injuries, including possible paralysis
    • Malignant hyperthermia
    • Seizures
    • Stroke
    • Coma
    • Death
The most common severe complications involve respiratory issues leading to asphyxia, brain damage, or death. While anesthesia is safer than ever, there are still risks, particularly in the very young, the very old, or those with compromised health situations. If you or a loved one has been injured through an anesthesia error, please contact the experienced Kentucky and Ohio medical negligence lawyers at Crandall & Pera Law, who will meet with you to discuss your individual situation and help to get you the justice, treatment, and compensation you deserve. For a free consultation, call our Kentucky legal team at 877.651.7764, our Ohio legal team at 877.686.8879, or contact us today.
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Steve Crandall


With licenses to practice law in Kentucky, Ohio, and various Federal Courts, Steve Crandall has been a top trial lawyer for nearly 30 years. Steve’s goals are to first investigate your case to get you answers and then focus on holding those responsible for the mistakes that changed your life. Steve’s clients can attest to the fact that Steve is responsive, keeps them constantly updated and aggressively pursues their case. Steve also remains their lawyer for life.

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