Medical Malpractice – Anesthesia Errors

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Medical Malpractice – Anesthesia Errors

Anesthesia Error Malpractice


Anesthesia Errors

Anesthesia mistakes present one of the most overlooked risks of surgery. One in every 200,000 patients die from an anesthesia error. When you consider that statistic in light of the fact that anesthesia is administered 40 million times a year, you can truly understand the magnitude of that statistic.

The thought of having any medical procedure can be daunting and intimidating. Typically, patients worry about the procedure/surgery, but they often overlook, or fail to consider at all, the possibility of an anesthesia error.

Types Of Surgical Anesthesia


General anesthesia

This type of anesthesia involves the use of medications to induce a state of unconsciousness and loss of sensation throughout the entire body. It is typically administered through inhalation or intravenous injection. General anesthesia allows for a pain-free and unconscious state during surgery, and it may require the use of a ventilator to assist with breathing.

Regional anesthesia

Regional anesthesia is the numbing a specific region of the body, such as an arm, leg, or a larger area like the lower body. This is done by injecting a local anesthetic near the nerves that supply sensation to that area. It can be administered as nerve blocks, epidurals, or spinal anesthesia. With regional anesthesia, patients may remain awake or sedated, depending on the specific procedure and patient preference.

Local anesthesia

Local anesthesia is used to numb a small area of the body for minor procedures. It is administered by a medical professional through injections of a numbing medication directly into the site where the procedure will take place. This type of anesthesia allows for pain relief in the targeted area while the patient remains conscious.

Injuries associated with anesthesia mistakes include:


Blurred vision

Blurred vision may happen in the initial postoperative visit, and can persist for a few days in some cases. The prevalence of new-onset blurred vision after surgery due to anesthesia problems was found to be around 6.9%. The visual impairment can be accompanied by symptoms such as redness of the eye and a sensation of a foreign body.


Paralysis can manifest as a result of nerve damage or improper administration of anesthesia, leading to the loss of muscle control and sensation in specific areas of the body. Paralysis following an anesthesia issue may affect one or more areas of the body. Medical attention is necessary to prevent further deterioration and to initiate appropriate treatment.


A coma caused by an anesthesia oversight during surgery can result from complications such as insufficient oxygen supply to the brain, medication reactions, or anesthesia overdose. These errors can lead to a state of prolonged unconsciousness where the brain activity is significantly diminished. Anesthesia-induced comas are reversible, and the prognosis for recovery depends on various factors, including the underlying cause and the extent of brain damage.


Seizures can be caused by an anesthesia problem during surgery as a result of improper medication administration or dosage miscalculations. Seizures caused by anesthesia may occur due to changes in brain activity, neurotransmitter imbalances, or hypersensitivity reactions to anesthetics. These seizures can manifest as temporary confusion, staring spells, muscle stiffness, uncontrollable jerking movements, or loss of consciousness.

Heart arrhythmia

A heart arrhythmia can be caused by an anesthesia issue during surgery due to various factors. Problems with medication interactions, improper dosing, or anesthesia related effects on the heart’s electrical system are the most common. Anesthesia inaccuracies can disrupt the normal rhythm of the heart, leading to a fast, slow, or irregular heartbeat. Treatment for anesthesia induced heart arrhythmias may include medications, cardioversion, catheter procedures, or in severe cases, heart surgery.

Loss of heart function

During surgery, the patient could lose heart function due to an anesthesia flaw. Factors, such as medication interactions, incorrect dosage, or complications related to anesthesia administration present the most problems. Anesthesia missteps can disrupt the normal functioning of the heart, leading to a decreased ability to pump blood effectively, potentially resulting in heart failure. This loss of heart function can manifest as symptoms such as shortness of breath, fluid buildup in the lungs, and inadequate blood circulation.


Death due to an anesthesia error during surgery can occur from complications related to anesthesia administration and the deprivation of oxygen to the brain cells. Anesthesia miscalculations can lead to inadequate oxygen supply, which can result in severe brain damage or failure of vital organs, leading to death. It is important to note that deaths during and immediately after surgery are often attributed to reactions to anesthesia rather than issues with the surgical procedure itself.

Tracheal damage

Tracheal damage from an anesthesia misstep during surgery can be a result of improper insertion or displacement of a tracheostomy tube. The misplacement of the tube can block the airflow or cause damage to the trachea. Tracheal damage can result in breathing difficulties, subcutaneous emphysema (air trapped in tissues of the neck), or damage to surrounding structures like the thyroid gland or nerves in the neck.

Lack of oxygen

Anesthesia negligence can lead to a lack of oxygen resulting from complications of various mechanisms. Failures such as disconnection of the anesthesia circuit, inadequate attention to oxygen/nitrous oxide supply, or medication errors can contribute to a reduced oxygen delivery. Additionally, ineffective airway control, early intubation, or delayed identification of hypovolemia can further compromise oxygenation during anesthesia. These errors highlight the importance of vigilance and proper monitoring to ensure adequate oxygenation during anesthesia administration.

Brain damage

Brain damage can occur with anesthesia during surgery when there are complications that result in insufficient oxygen supply to the brain. Problems related to the placement of the breathing tube can contribute to a lack of oxygen delivery, potentially leading to brain damage. While such occurrences are extremely rare, it highlights the importance of proper monitoring by the anesthesiologist or certified nurse anesthetist. Also, intervention during anesthesia helps to ensure adequate oxygenation and minimize the risk of brain injury.

Anesthesia awareness (when the patient still feels the pain of procedure but is unable to move or communicate)

Anesthesia blunders are a form of medical malpractice. Therefore, if you or someone you love was the victim of an anesthesia mistake, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries. I’m a highly experienced medical malpractice attorney, and I’ve helped victims of anesthesia malpractice for more than 40 years!

Often,  my clients come to me looking for something even more valuable than compensation – and that is answers. Was there too little anesthesia administered? Was the medical professional unaware of anesthesia awareness during the procedure? My clients want to know why they suffered the injury, and if their injury could have been prevented.

If you think you have a medical malpractice claim, you need to call me today. I will find the answers you are looking for, and I’ll Make Them Pay!®

Anesthesia mistakes have a number of different causes, including:


Anesthesia dosage errors

An anesthesia dosage error is the incorrect administration of medication during anesthesia, leading to either an inadequate or excessive dose of the drug given to the patient. This may be caused by a syringe swap, misunderstanding of the prescribed dose, pump misuse, dilution errors, or drug substitutions. Anesthesia dosage errors can have significant consequences, including inadequate anesthesia levels, compromised patient safety, or potential drug toxicity. We trust our medical professionals to be aware of all steps and calculations necessary for a successful procedure.

Incorrect intubation

An incorrect intubation during anesthesia can lead to potential complications. Improper placement of the endotracheal tube can result in difficulty with ventilation and inadequate delivery of oxygen to the lungs. This can cause respiratory distress, laryngospasm, and bronchospasm (tightening of the airways), which may compromise the patient’s oxygenation and ventilation. It is crucial to ensure correct and precise intubation to maintain effective respiratory support during anesthesia.

Lack of patient monitoring

A lack of patient monitoring during anesthesia can contribute to potential complications. Insufficient or inadequate monitoring may result in the failure to detect changes in vital signs, medication effects, or patient responses. This leads to delayed intervention or inappropriate management. Also, it increases the risk of adverse drug events, patient harm, and compromised anesthesia safety. Proper and vigilant patient monitoring is essential to ensure optimal anesthesia care and patient well-being.

Failure to recognize complications

Failing to recognize complications with anesthesia during surgery is medical malpractice and can lead to serious injury. Examples include; failure to promptly identify and address complications such as adverse reactions, cardiovascular instability, respiratory distress, or allergic responses. Anesthesia malpractice can lead to inadequate or delayed interventions, potentially exacerbating the situation and increasing the risk of adverse outcomes. Proper vigilance, monitoring, and timely recognition of anesthesia-related complications are crucial to ensure patient well-being and mitigate potential errors.

Delay anesthesia delivery

A delay in anesthesia delivery can lead to problems and complications during the administration of anesthesia. When there is a delay in the onset of anesthesia, the patient may experience inadequate pain control and heightened discomfort, potentially compromising their safety and well-being. Additionally, delays in anesthesia delivery can disrupt the timing of surgical procedures, leading to increased operating room time, resource utilization, and associated costs. Timely and accurate administration of anesthesia is essential for optimal patient outcomes and efficient surgical workflow.

Leaving patient unattended

Leaving a patient unattended during anesthesia can increase the risk of complications and patient harm. Without continuous monitoring and supervision, potential issues such as changes in vital signs, adverse reactions to anesthesia, or airway obstruction may go unnoticed. Delayed intervention and compromised patient safety is the result. Therefore, it is crucial for the anesthesia care team to ensure continuous presence and monitoring of the patient throughout the procedure. It is critical to promptly address any emerging issues and maintain the patient’s well-being.

Staff communication errors

Communication problems among staff members can have a significant impact on patient safety during anesthesia. Ineffective communication or lack of clarity in conveying critical information can cause big problems. Lack of proper knowledge about patient medical history, allergies, or changes in anesthesia plan, can lead to misunderstandings and errors in anesthesia administration. Miscommunication can also hinder the collaboration between different members of the anesthesia team, compromising the timely and accurate delivery of anesthesia care. Therefore, fostering clear and open communication channels, promoting teamwork, and emphasizing the importance of effective information exchange are essential to minimize the risk of errors. As a malpractice lawyer, I find poor communication during medical procedures to be absolutely inexcusable!

Staff negligence

Staff negligence can significantly contribute to common anesthesia errors during surgery. When anesthesiologists or other healthcare professionals responsible for administering anesthesia are negligent in their duties, they make mistakes. Incorrect dosing, improper administration of anesthesia, or failure to monitor the patient’s vital signs adequately are common issues. These errors can result in serious complications, including over-sedation, undersedation, waking up during surgery, and potential harm to the patient’s safety and well-being. It is crucial for healthcare staff to exercise proper care, attention, and adherence to established protocols to minimize the risk of anesthesia errors, and medical malpractice cases.

Prolonged sedation

Prolonged sedation can lead to complications with the anesthesia. When sedation lasts longer than intended, there is an increased risk of over-sedation. This can result in respiratory depression, decreased oxygenation, and potential airway obstruction. Prolonged sedation can also contribute to post-intensive care unit syndrome, a condition associated with long-term physical and psychological problems.

Defective equipment

Using defective equipment during anesthesia is medical negligence. Malfunctioning anesthesia equipment, such as faulty monitors or ventilators, can compromise patient safety and result in inadequate monitoring, inadequate oxygenation, or improper delivery of anesthetic agents. Equipment defects, such as leaks or blockages in anesthesia delivery systems, can disrupt the precise administration of anesthesia. Ensuring the proper functioning and regular maintenance of anesthesia equipment is crucial to prevent complications and ensure patient well-being during anesthesia administration.

Did you or someone you love suffer an injury as a result of an anesthesia error? If so, you have to call me as soon as possible for a FREE case review.

I will help you understand your rights, get the answers you need, and the compensation you deserve. As your Ohio Medical Malpractice Lawyer, I’ll be there for you, and I’ll Make Them Pay!®


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