Medical malpractice covers a wide range of mistakes made by health care professionals in Massachusetts or another state. It means a professional has fallen below a standard of care, causing harm to patients. An example of medical malpractice includes anesthesia errors during surgery.
Overview of anesthesia and errors
Anesthesia provides patients pain relief during all stages of surgery, and the type depends on the procedure. Under general anesthesia, commonly called intubation, the patient is completely unconscious during the operation. Regional anesthesia is a nerve block that numbs a specific body part, such as a spinal tap or epidural. Local anesthesia numbs a certain body area for minor procedures, such as dental work.
General anesthesia errors make up a large number of medical malpractice cases, which commonly occur from incorrect intubation. Other common errors include administering too much or too little, not recognizing complications, incorrectly administering oxygen, using faulty equipment and failing to intubate. Errors commonly occur from miscommunication, errors in judgement, lack of knowledge of medical history and inattention to the patient.
Complications from anesthesia errors
Some general complications include heart attacks, respiratory issues, kidney issues, stroke, nerve damage, infection or trauma from waking up during the procedure. Statistics show that 40% of patients may also experience vomiting, nausea and pain after surgery.
It is rare for a patient to die from anesthesia complications, especially from local anesthesia. Local anesthesia is commonly safe and rarely causes side effects, but too much of it could affect heart rate and breathing. A common complication from regional anesthesia is toxicity when the chemicals enter the bloodstream. General anesthesia could cause choking, gagging or coughing from the inserted tubes.
Not all surgical errors mean malpractice, but the doctor still must follow standard protocol. If a patient thinks they have suffered complications from anesthesia, a lawyer may review the case and work to help them prove negligence.