Whether you are going in for a routine procedure or something more complex, you will likely meet with an anesthesiologist or nurse anesthetist who will go over your condition, your medical history, and plan out an appropriate level of anesthesia before you are admitted for surgery. Anesthesiologists must carefully balance out sedation with oxygenation and maintaining your vitals. When going in for a procedure, you trust that the person administering anesthesia is using the right kind, in the right location, and in the right dosages. An error in administering the agent can result in serious, long-term health problems and even death.
If you or a loved one has been injured or impaired as a result of someone’s negligence in planning or administering anesthesia, you may have a personal injury claim. With a claim, you may be able to seek compensation for medical bills, disability, disfigurement, loss of normal life, and lost wages. Your next step should be to consult with an experienced Chicago medical malpractice lawyer who can learn about your situation and walk you through the options. At Staver Accident Injury Lawyers, P.C., we know that this process can be confusing, especially as you recover. We handle all of our cases with compassion and care. Call us today at (312) 801-2015 for a free consultation with our Chicago med mal attorneys.
Types of Anesthesia
Most people think of laughing gas when they think of anesthesia. Known as nitrous oxide, this is administered to induce unconsciousness intravenously or by inhalation. However, there are other types of anesthesia that are administered and they depend largely on the type of procedure you’re undergoing.
- Local anesthesia is an agent that alleviates pain in a particular area on your body, and you remain conscious. Usually it is administered through an injection.
- Regional anesthesia is used to numb or alleviate pain in a larger area of the body, or if a local anesthetic will not penetrate deep enough. A local anesthetic may still be administered to the nerves that provide feeling to a given area of the body.
There are many different types of regional anesthesia as well, though two are more common than others. The first is spinal anesthetic, which is typically injected into the subarachnoid space that surrounds the spinal cord. It is commonly used in orthopedic surgery involving the lower body. The other type is an epidural anesthetic; this is typically administered via a catheter, which is placed outside of the subarachnoid space to create numbness in the lower body. Though epidural anesthetic is typically used in lower limb surgery as well as during labor, it can also be used in chest and abdominal procedures.
Before you undergo a medical procedure, an anesthesiologist will evaluate your condition, medical history, and lifestyle to plan the safest surgery for you. Errors can occur at the planning level and at the administration level, and we have explored the possible problems that can arise.
- Failure to inquire about allergies, previous anesthetic reactions, drug use, or other lifestyle habits. It’s important that your anesthesiologist ask questions about things you do in daily life that could impact your anesthetic plan. If a physician or anesthesiologist fails to ask about things like allergies or use of herbal supplements, your anesthetic could be less effective or cause serious complications in your vitals. Allergies and reactions to certain drugs can lead to organ damage, shock, or other issues.
- Failure to intubate or issues with intubation. During surgery, an anesthesiologist may intubate you to help you breathe. Failing to intubate can cause you to stop breathing and could lead to brain damage. An error with intubation could lead to airway collapse and organ failure. Forty-five percent of respiratory issues have resulted in brain damage and/or death in surgical procedures.
- Failure to monitor consciousness, oxygenation, and/or vitals. An anesthesiologist has a responsibility to regulate your level of consciousness, particularly where general anesthesia has been administered, as well as how much oxygen you’re receiving. Not monitoring properly can leave you with injury and long-term medical complications.
- Dosage errors. If you are given too little anesthesia, you may suffer anesthesia awareness – a condition where you wake up during surgery, paralyzed and unable to speak, but fully aware of the extreme pain. Too much anesthesia can result in comas, brain damage, or death.
Anesthetic Negligence & Malpractice
To make an anesthetic malpractice claim, your Chicago personal injury attorneys must establish the following:
- The anesthesiologist and you had a physician-patient relationship,
- The anesthesiologist has a responsibility to a standard of care,
- The anesthesiologist breached this standard of care,
- You suffered an injury proximately caused by this breach,
- You suffered damages from this injury.
The anesthesiologist’s actions are compared to what other anesthesiologists would do in the same situation to determine negligence.
Anesthetic malpractice can leave you with damages both tangible and intangible. These can include financial damages like expensive medical bills, future medical expenses, lost wages, and lost earning capacity. Damages can also include loss of normal life, pain and suffering, and mental anguish. Assigning value to your injury and its impact is difficult, but an experienced Chicago medical malpractice attorney can evaluate the facts and help you figure out the appropriate value.
If you experienced an anesthetic error due to negligence and were subsequently injured, please contact us today at (312) 801-2015. We can go over your situation and the options available to you in a free legal consultation with one of our Chicago personal injury lawyers.