Anesthesia Error Lawsuit

Anesthesiologist preparing for surgery

California Attorneys Handling Anesthesiologist Malpractice Cases

Most of us will be placed under anesthesia at some point in our lives in preparation for a surgical procedure. Anesthesia is administered to you by an anesthesiologist and is used to prevent pain, decrease stress, induce amnesia, and to prevent muscle movement. Anesthesia administration is done millions of times each year.

In nearly all cases, anesthesia is successfully administered without incident, however, there are times where injury or death can result from an anesthesia error. In such instances, it may be necessary to file an anesthesia error lawsuit in order to obtain compensation for an injury or loss caused by anesthesia malpractice.

The California Anesthesia Malpractice Attorneys of Nadrich & Cohen Accident Injury Lawyers represent malpractice victims and their families throughout the state. If you believe that you or a loved one has an anesthesia error lawsuit claim, call us now at 1-800-718-4658 for a free and confidential consultation.

Anesthesia Error Statistics

In a seven-year study that analyzed 2,211 deaths related to anesthesia errors, 241 of these deaths were caused directly by anesthesia complications. In the remaining number, anesthesia errors were a contributing factor. Overdose accounted for more than 46 percent of the deaths, while adverse events accounted for 42.5 percent.

While adverse events caused by anesthesia dropped by more than 50 percent between 2010 and 2013 – from 11.8 percent to 4.8 percent – the mortality rate remained the same, at 3 deaths per 10,000 procedures. Human error accounts for as many as 87 percent of anesthesia deaths.

Studies also showed that patients over 50 were more likely to suffer serious anesthesia complications. Minor complications were more common among healthy patients who underwent elective procedures. Despite the myth that the morning hours are the safest time to have surgery, complication rates did not increase when the surgical procedure was performed in the evening or on holidays. In fact, in a study of 63 anesthesia drug errors, only one of the errors occurred at night.

According to the National Institutes of Health, most anesthesia errors (53 percent) occur at the time the drug is administered. Prescription errors account for 17 percent of errors, and transcription mistakes account for 11 percent of anesthesia errors.

Types of Anesthesia Errors

Anesthesia Errors - Surgeons Gather Around Patient

Complications from anesthesia are divided into two areas: minor and major. The most common minor complications are vomiting and nausea, accounting for 35 percent of cases. Anesthesia medication errors were the most common major complication, accounting for just under 12 percent of cases.

Anesthesia errors can occur in a variety of ways. The most common situations include the following:

  • Patient consciousness caused by insufficient dosing
  • Anesthesia overdose
  • Administering the wrong drug
  • Inadequate monitoring
  • Failure to prevent drug interactions
  • Allergic reactions
  • Improper patient instructions prior to the procedure
  • Failure to provide sufficient oxygen during surgery
  • Defective medical equipment

Effects of Anesthesia Errors

Any of the above can cause serious medical issues, including the following:

  • Dizziness/confusion
  • Blurred vision
  • Tinnitus (ringing in the ears)
  • Abnormal pulse
  • Heart arrhythmia
  • Heart function problems
  • Cardiovascular collapse
  • Blood pressure complications
  • Spinal cord injury/paralysis
  • Vein/artery/nerve damage
  • Malignant hyperthermia
  • Inadequate oxygen supply
  • Birth defects
  • Brain/organ damage
  • Seizures/stroke
  • Coma
  • Death

Over a five-year period, the most common issues were the following:

  • Dental-related damage
  • Pain
  • Nerve damage
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Organ damage
  • Death

Causes of Anesthesia Errors

Surgeon injecting anesthesia into patient

There are five main types of anesthesia: general, spinal, regional, local, and dissociative anesthesia. Administering anesthesia drugs requires anywhere from 80 to 200 individual steps – from prescription to preparation to administration. Given the complexity of anesthesia administration, sometimes mistakes are made and important safety procedures are overlooked.

There are numerous risk factors that can make an anesthesia error more likely to occur. Sixteen percent of errors are attributable to a lack of training and experience. A lack of familiarity with the anesthesia equipment was also a significant factor, accounting for 9.3 percent of all errors. Carelessness and inattention are to blame for 5.6 percent of anesthesia errors.

Many errors occur due to staffing issues, overtime, stress, fatigue, and lack of staff communication. Inaccurate or confusing drug labels, unlabeled drugs, inaccurate dosing, and look-alike, sound-alike drugs also contribute to anesthesia errors.

It is believed that anesthesia care is more likely to be substandard when not administered in an operating room setting. Respiratory events are more common in non-OR environments due to inadequate ventilation and lack of patient monitoring.

Suing for Anesthesia Malpractice

The most common reason for an anesthesia error claim (47% of all cases) was an “abnormal injury.” This is a very broad term and can include injuries ranging from minor dental damage to loss of life.

Of all anesthesiologists in America, those working in California are most likely to be sued for malpractice. Of anesthesia malpractice claims paid, most (48 percent) occurred in an inpatient setting, 43 percent occurred in an outpatient setting, and 9 percent of cases involved both.

In a study of 4,000 anesthesia malpractice cases, more than 40 percent were settled prior to going to trial. In California, medical malpractice claims generally must be filed within one year of the malpractice event or discovery of malpractice. There are multiple exceptions to the one-year rule, including a different time period for minors, wrongful death claimants, incapacitated individuals, and claims against public or governmental entities, etc.

It is important to speak with an anesthesia malpractice attorney as soon as possible after the malpractice event. An attorney will want to move quickly to preserve all available evidence. If you or a loved one has been harmed due to an anesthesia error, it’s important to enlist the help of an experienced anesthesia malpractice lawyer. You need an advocate by your side to represent you.

Contact Nadrich & Cohen Accident Injury Lawyers now for a free and confidential consultation. Call 1-800-718-4658. We have 28 California locations to serve you.

Free Consultation With A California Malpractice Attorney

Anesthesia is toxic to the body when improperly administered. Too much anesthesia can adversely affect your organs and lead to brain damage, paralysis, coma, or death. If any of these situations happened to you or a loved one, act now to preserve your legal rights.

Nadrich & Cohen Accident Injury Lawyers has a team of experienced anesthesia malpractice lawyers who pursue and investigate anesthesia error claims on behalf of victims and their families. Our law firm has assembled a team of anesthesiologists, neurologists, cardiologists, psychiatrists, chemical scientists and pharmacological experts to take anesthesia error cases to trial. We leave no stone unturned in fighting to obtain maximum compensation for each client.

You owe it to yourself and your family to choose a law firm that specializes in anesthesia malpractice lawsuits. Contact the California Law Firm of Nadrich & Cohen Accident Injury Lawyers now to speak with a member of our anesthesia malpractice team. The call is free of charge. We never collect a fee for our services, unless a recovery is made. Call us at 1-800-718-4658 now. Don’t wait. The call is 100% confidential and free of charge.