What is an anesthesia error?
What is an anesthesia error?
Undergoing a medical procedure can be a stressful experience. Needing to be put under with anesthesia whether it be general, regional, or local, can make heighten the stress of the situation. Despite significant advances in the field of anesthesiology, anesthesia errors still sometimes occur. These errors can have devastating effects on a person that range from localized numbness to loss of heart function and death. These types of errors are often the result of medical negligence and victims may be entitled to seek compensation for their losses.
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Types of anesthesia errors
Anesthesia errors can occur in several forms, and can be caused by any number of factors. However, many of the anesthesia errors that do occur are because of negligence or incompetence.
The most common anesthesia errors include incidents such as:
- Administering too much of one or more anesthetic drugs
- Anesthesia awareness, or administering too little or one or more anesthetic drugs
- Delayed delivery of anesthesia
- Administering an incorrect anesthesia drug
- Failure to prevent anesthesia interactions, such as with prescription drugs
- Administering anesthetics to a patient with allergies
- Failure to properly instruct patients prior to anesthesia, such as limiting food or liquid intake
- Failure to administer oxygen during surgery or properly monitor the patient
- Defective medical devices and equipment used during anesthetic administration
Effects of anesthesia errors
Anesthesia errors may result in:
- Dizziness, confusion, and blurred vision
- Tinnitus, or a ringing noise in the ears
- Heart arrhythmia, or abnormal pulse
- Brain or organ damage
- Heart function problems
- Vein, artery, and nerve damage
- Asphyxia, or inadequate oxygen supply
- Blood pressure complications
- Birth defects
- Cardiovascular collapse
- Spinal cord injury, which may cause paralysis
- Malignant hyperthermia, resulting in severe fever and muscle contractions
- Seizures and stroke
- Coma and death
Anesthesia error statistics
According to the American Society of Anesthesiologists respiratory issues are one of the most common causes of serious injury and death. Of the cases they have examined, 45 percent consisted of respiratory issues that resulted in brain damage and death of patients.
A Columbia University study examined 2,211 anesthesia-related deaths that occurred over the course of six years. On average, roughly 300 anesthesia-related deaths occurred each year. The data was analyzed to determine the most common causes of anesthesia-related deaths.
Their studies showed:
- 6 percent were causes by anesthetics overdose
- 5 percent were related to the adverse effects of anesthetics during therapeutic use
- 6 percent occurred during pregnancy or labor
- The remaining 7.3 percent were due to other complications