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Medical Malpractice and Anesthesiology

Medical Malpractice Lawyer

Medical malpractice lawyers handle anesthesia malpractice lawsuits on occasion.  There are three types of anesthesia of varying intensity used for surgical procedures. General anesthesia is a combination of medications required for thousands of operations; it puts patients into a sleep-like state to eliminate pain and movement during procedures. Regional anesthesia numbs larger areas of the body being worked on, like an arm or leg. Lastly, local anesthesia is used for minor procedures and numbs smaller areas of the body without rendering the patient unconscious, like a tooth. Every person reacts to anesthesia differently, some more negatively than others. Anesthesiologists are required to carefully evaluate their patients’ charts, medical history, prescriptions, weight, age, and other components to determine the correct dosage prior to their procedures. 

During a surgery, a patient’s anesthesiologist continuously monitors their vital signs to ensure everything is going smoothly. Signs that something is amiss include a lack of oxygen to the brain and an elevated heart rate. When an anesthesiologist fails to notice these signs or to rectify these problems before they cause damage to the patient, it is considered medical malpractice. Other causes of malpractice can include providing the wrong dosage or type of anesthesia, as well as failing to actually put the patient under.

In 2005, a 36-year old man passed away due to anesthesiology malpractice that occurred during an elective hernia repair. During the patient’s preoperative interview, he informed his anesthesiologist that he had a history of asthma, obesity, and difficulty breathing. Despite these facts, the defendant decided to move forward with general endotracheal anesthesia. Endotracheal anesthesia is administered through a tube that is intubated into the patient’s respiratory system, usually down their throat. 

The 2-hour procedure went smoothly and after it was complete, the patient was given a reversal agent for the anesthesia and was extubated. Once the tube was removed, the patient began to struggle with his breathing. He was extremely uncomfortable upon awakening post-operation so was given bag-valve-mask ventilation (BVM) to promote oxygen flow through his airway. The patient’s blood oxygen levels continued to lower, so his doctors used a scope to check his upper airway. The scope exposed his airway to be swollen with excess liquid. He was re-intubated, however his oxygen levels continued to drop. Around an hour after surgery, the patient coded after experiencing respiratory arrest; resuscitation was attempted with no avail. 

After the patient passed away, his family sued the anesthesiologist claiming, “that the defendant deviated from the accepted standard of care for the average qualified anesthesiologist when he failed to immediately recognize and appreciate the patient’s postoperative respiratory crisis, and immediately re-intubate the patient after initial attempts to ventilate him with a bag and mask failed.” The case was settled before going to trial for $2 million. 

If you or a loved one has encountered any form of medical negligence or medical malpractice due to anesthesiology, seek legal counsel with a lawyer, like a medical negligence lawyer in Cleveland, OH from Mishkind Kulwicki Law Co., LPA, immediately. Timing is crucial when presenting a medical malpractice case to the court so do not wait. The attorney can conduct a thorough investigation and determine if you have cause for filing a lawsuit. You may be eligible for compensation after seeking legal recourse for your anesthesiology malpractice case.


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