Intubation and anesthesia errors are a form of medical malpractice and can result in significant harm or even death.
An anesthesiologist is a trained medical professional tasked with administering safe and effective drugs to patients before they undergo a serious medical procedure. Many people are under the assumption that anesthesia complications are isolated to surgeries at the hospital; however, that is not always the case. Anesthesia errors can happen in several settings including urgent care, a dentist office or a surgery center among others.
What is Intubation?
Patient’s that suffer a serious injury can often require breathing assistance referred to as endotracheal intubation (EI). In these instances, patients commonly undergo intubation, a process which involves anesthesia and the insertion of a long tube down the patient’s airway that is connected to a ventilator which allows the patient to receive a consistent flow of oxygen. However, if the procedure is performed incorrectly, it can lead to serious injury.
What is Anesthesia?
The patient is put into a medically-induced coma as a result of one or more general anesthetic agents that can include, but is not limited to: Fentanyl, Lidocaine, Nitrous Oxide or Propofol. These agents work to ensure the patient goes to sleep and is not awake during the procedure.
Below is information on intubation and anesthesia errors.
Many factors can cause anesthesia and intubation complications, although most are the result of negligence by the doctor and/or anesthesiologist. The most common errors include:
- Failure to properly monitor the patient.
- Dosage errors – too much or not enough anesthesia.
- Allergic reaction and drug interaction.
- Failure to intubate or injuries that are caused during intubation: Anesthesiologists often intubate a patient during surgery to help them breath safely. When an error occurs during intubation or fails to maintain a proper airway, serious injury can result.
- Failure to monitor the patient’s level of consciousness during the procedure as well as their oxygenation and other vital responsibilities.
Anesthesia complications can vary according to the type of anesthesia administered but can include: anxiety, severe injury, blood pressure complications, nerve damage and in some cases can include wrongful death, allergic reasons and sore throat. If you have experienced any of these symptoms following a procedure or surgery, you should speak to a medical malpractice lawyer.
Types of anesthesia include:
- General – the patient is rendered unconscious.
- Spinal and epidural – delivered through injection near the spinal cord.
- Local – specific to an area (i.e. a tooth, for extraction).
- Regional – numbs larger areas of the body (i.e. an entire leg or arm).
Anesthesia Errors that can Cause Catastrophic Injuries
One of the most severe complications of an anesthesia error is prolonged loss of oxygen. Just three minutes or more without oxygen can result in serious and potentially permanent brain damage from cerebral hypoxia.
Depending on the circumstances that led to oxygen deprivation, if you or a loved one suffered loss of oxygen and are now permanently disabled, you may have the grounds to file a medical malpractice claim against the anesthesiologist.
What Should Patients Do?
If you or a loved one has suffered serious injury due to an anesthesia or intubation error, which can have life-altering consequences including brain damage or even accidental death – consider contacting a North Carolina medical malpractice injury lawyer that has experience with anesthesiology claims.