Anesthesia, which is medication that reduces someone’s awareness and sense of pain during surgery, is one of the most impressive aspects of modern medicine. Anesthesiologists are medical doctors who go to school for years to learn how to safely administer these drugs to patients. An anesthesiologist plays a key role during surgical procedures.
Their expertise helps to render someone insensitive to pain and unconscious so that they don’t react to the doctor who is operating on their body. Unfortunately, anesthesia is one of the leading causes of complications during modern surgical procedures. Errors can occur for a broad range of different reasons, but the three types of mistakes below are among the most common and devastating.
Using the wrong medication
There are dozens of different drugs that can help achieve anesthesia goals prior to surgery. The exact drugs a patient receives will depend on the type of procedure they will undergo, their family history and any underlying medical conditions they may have. Doctors very carefully select the right anesthesia given a patient’s needs, but they could end up administering the wrong drug if they misread a label or confuse multiple packages. Administering the wrong drug could lead to an overdose or a dangerous drug interaction.
Errors in the administration process
There are many things that can go wrong when administering a drug to a patient, and an anesthesiologist should adhere to best practices for the specific drugs they intend to use. From tapered administration that gradually increases the dose to check for adverse reactions to careful sanitation practices, there are many protocols to which the anesthesiologist must adhere. Deviations from those best practices are a common cause of anesthesia mistakes that have adverse outcomes for patients.
Getting the dosage wrong
Perhaps someone scheduled a surgery months ago and then lost a significant amount of weight. If the anesthesiologist does not have up-to-date records showing what someone currently weighs, they might provide a patient with the wrong dose of a drug, which could have tragic consequences. Other times, it might be distractions in the operating room, such as a conversation between the surgical nurses, that leads to an anesthesiologist delivering the wrong dose of a potentially dangerous medication to a patient. Dosage errors can lead to cardiac and respiratory issues that can prove fatal in some cases.
Anesthesiologists should review medical records carefully, engage in allergy testing when appropriate and adhere to best practices carefully to reduce the risk inherent in their practice of medicine. Both patients affected by anesthesia errors and those who lose loved ones may have grounds for a medical malpractice claim after a drug-related error causes harm during surgery. Being able to recognize an anesthesia error as medical malpractice may help those harmed in a medical setting demand justice.