If you believe that you or a loved one has fallen victim to negligence by an anesthesiologist, it may be time to consult an injury lawyer. Read on to learn what qualifies as anesthesiology malpractice and what to expect from the process if you think you have a legal case.
What Do Anesthesiologists Do?
Anesthesiologists play a vital role in many medical procedures; their primary job is providing medication so patients don’t feel pain during surgery, but they also deal with emergency situations and advise on pain management and relief before, during, and after surgeries. Each year, over 40 million surgeries in the United States involve the use of an anesthetic, and anesthesiologists are involved in the vast majority of those surgeries.
Many hospitals and surgery centers now use a mid-level provider to supply anesthesia services. The provider must be a certified registered nurse anesthetist (CRNA) or nurse practitioner (NP). These providers can work independently but must be supervised and managed by an anesthesiologist. They must be credentialed—just like their physician supervisor—and carry medical malpractice. Most importantly, CRNAs or NPs are expected to uphold the same standard of care as an anesthesiologist and can be held liable when that standard is violated.
What are the Types of Anesthesia and Their Complications?
The three main types of anesthesia you will encounter when dealing with medical procedures are:
- Local anesthesia, where only a small part of the body is under the influence of the drug (anyone who has undergone any sort of dental procedure is likely familiar with the relatively mild—but important—effects of local anesthesia)
- Regional anesthesia, where some, but not all, of the body is anesthetized, such as in dealing with spinal blocks
- General anesthesia, in which the patient is rendered completely unconscious
Undergoing surgery of any sort can be stressful, and surgery is often used for serious medical conditions, so anesthesiologists carry a lot of responsibility. Patients trust anesthesiologists to administer the correct type and dose of anesthetic every time it’s needed. And usually, that is exactly what they get: anesthesiologists are trained medical professionals whose primary concern is alleviating pain and making sure each surgery journey goes as smoothly as possible.
Even under the best of circumstances, anesthesia can be difficult for some patients, with side effects of pain, nausea, disorientation, and vomiting being common complaints. Unfortunately, as in any area of medicine, mistakes happen, and in the case of anesthesiology, anything that goes wrong can have serious effects on a patient.
The most immediate complication of anesthetic that is improperly applied is pain—which can cause serious problems if it takes place mid-surgery. Beyond mismanaged pain, serious complications associated with improper anesthesia application include:
- Damage to throat or teeth
- Allergic reactions
- Brain damage
- Nerve damage
- Blood clots
- Heart attack
In addition to these issues, patients may sometimes regain consciousness during surgery—causing severe complications—or even die. Surgery is a complex field, but you or a loved one should never have to pay the price for a medical professional’s mistake.
How Does Anesthesiology Malpractice Happen?
If you have experienced any of the complications above following a surgery with an anesthetic, it’s possible that you have fallen victim to anesthesiology malpractice. But how does that sort of malpractice happen?
If you are experiencing medical issues that you believe are linked to an anesthesiologist’s error, the mistake would most likely fall under one of these errors:
- Failure to properly monitor the patient
- Providing the wrong dosage
- Failure to recognize complications
- Improper intubation (often resulting in tooth damage)
- Failure to provide proper surgical preparation for the patient
While it’s good to know the possible causes of malpractice conducted by an anesthesiologist, it can be difficult to prove that any of them occurred. However, with an experienced injury law firm and their network of respected medical experts on your team, you’ll have the strongest case possible when seeking justice and fair compensation.
How Are Malpractice Cases Involving Anesthesiologists Resolved?
The first step in resolving any medical malpractice case is to find a law firm experienced in these types of cases and set up an appointment. Any case involving surgical malpractice is likely to be complex and can add stress on top of your injury. Having accomplished legal support on your side will ensure that a difficult process doesn’t become harder than it has to be.
Depending on your situation, the statute of limitations—the period of time in which you can file a lawsuit—can be short. Even if you are unsure whether you want to pursue an anesthesiology negligence malpractice lawsuit, it’s important to reach out for a consultation as soon as possible so you can get all the facts you need to make your decision.
If your case is appropriate for pursuing legal liability, your malpractice lawyers will work to get you justice, whether that is a settlement or a judgment in your favor. Compensation amounts vary, taking into account:
- Doctor and hospital bills—past, current, and future
- Lost income—past, current, and future
- Pain and suffering
- Disfigurement and scarring
- Quality of life concerns
Janet, Janet & Suggs Is Here to Help
If you have fallen victim to an anesthesiologist’s mistake, you can count on us to put up a fight for the compensation you need and deserve. Janet, Janet & Suggs has over 40 years of experience with medical malpractice lawsuits. Our legal/medical team includes expert witnesses and attorneys to support clients through the complex process of anesthesiology malpractice cases. Our nationally recognized track record of successful verdicts and settlements demonstrates our commitment to working for justice and fair compensation. We fight for victims of medical malpractice, and there are no fees until we win your case. Contact us for a free consultation to discuss your case and learn about your rights.
William R. “Topper” Cramer, RN, MBA, MS, CCRN, CFRN, EMT-P
Legal Nurse Consultant | Nurse Paralegal
Topper has been involved in emergency, transport, and critical care medicine since 1978 when he became an EMT in high school. A United States Air Force veteran, he remains active as a pre-hospital RN/paramedic, certified flight nurse, and critical care nurse. In addition to his professional role as a nurse consultant/nurse paralegal, he is the Chief of Operations at Walkersville Volunteer Rescue in Frederick County, Maryland. READ FULL BIO