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Can Anesthesia Kill You?

Yes, anesthesia can kill you. However, death from anesthesia, or, more accurately, errors in administering anesthesia are somewhat rare. Anesthesia errors usually lead to minor injuries but when things go badly, they can go very badly. For example, in severe cases, patients could experience heart attacks, brain damage, nerve damage, organ failure, paralysis, coma, or even death from errors in administering anesthesia. When these severe injuries, or death, are caused by the negligence or incompetence of healthcare professionals, they may give rise to medical malpractice claims.

Anesthesia & Human Error

Anesthesia is used for all types of surgeries and medical procedures – from major, necessary operations to common elective surgeries to dental work. Regardless of the procedure, accidents can and do happen, resulting in injuries.

The following list outlines the most common anesthesia mistakes made by healthcare professionals which can result in severe injuries or death:

  • Improper monitoring of the patient while under anesthesia
  • Over or under-dosing of the patient
  • Intubation errors that block airflow
  • Allergic reaction to medications
  • Improper post-surgery care
  • Miscommunication amongst healthcare providers
  • Failure to recognize and respond to complications while the patient is under anesthesia
  • Administering the wrong medication
  • Improper placement of intravenous lines, injections, or Improper positioning of the patient
  • Defective medical equipment
  • Lack of instruction to the patient before or after the procedure

It’s Not the Movies – Anesthesia Awareness

When a patient is not given sufficient anesthesia, they could potentially experience “anesthesia awareness.” Basically, the patient “wakes up” during the procedure. The patient may or may not be able to communicate with their healthcare team. Regardless, they become aware of their surroundings, feel paralyzed, and may even feel pressure or pain. Obviously, this is a horrifying experience that can lead to all sorts of emotional issues well after the surgery including depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. In addition to the list of anesthesia mistakes above, anesthesia awareness can also be the basis, or part, of an anesthesia malpractice claim.

When Things Go Wrong

The chances that anesthesia will kill you are rather low, but it does unfortunately happen. Besides death, there are plenty of other risks associated with anesthesia. In fact, there is even a foundation – Anesthesia Patient Safety Foundation (APSF) – dedicated to protecting patients. The APSF’s mission is to improve the safety of patients during anesthesia care by:

  • Identifying safety initiatives and creating recommendations to implement directly and with partner organizations
  • Being a leading voice for anesthesia patient safety worldwide
  • Supporting and advancing anesthesia patient safety culture, knowledge, and learning

The point is that anesthesia risk is real, and people are injured when medical professionals are negligent and fail in their duty to properly care for their patients.

The Baer Law Firm handles all types of medical malpractice cases including anesthesia malpractice. We have the resources and experience to determine if the problems experienced with anesthesia give rise to a medical malpractice claim or a wrongful death claim of a loved one. We will provide honest advice, quality counsel, and compassionate care throughout the legal process, from consultation to compensation.

If you were seriously injured by an error in the administration of anesthesia, or if a loved one died during a medical procedure, we encourage you to contact our office at The Baer Law Firm or call us at 404.THE.BAER (404.843.2237).

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