Injuries from Anesthesia Errors in Virginia

An anesthesiologist has a highly responsible job in the operating room. Although few patients question their safety before an operation, injuries from anesthesia errors in Virginia continue to occur. Even a small mistake in the level of drugs administered can prove very serious or even crippling or deadly to a patient.

There’s a good reason why the medical insurance premiums for anesthesiologists are higher than those of any other medical specialty. This is an exacting profession. If you suffer an injury due to an anesthesia error, you should contact our experienced Virginia medical malpractice lawyers.

Typically, anesthesia errors can be more dangerous than many other surgical mistakes. Patients under surgery rely on the anesthesiologist for their oxygen supply and to monitor their vital signs during an operation.

When an anesthesiologist’s error is not caught quickly and corrected it can only take a matter of minutes for a patient to suffer catastrophic injuries like brain damage or even death.

How Many Patients Die from Anesthesia Errors?

Going under anesthetic is much safer than in the 1940s when as many as 640 people per million died. However, recent evidence suggests the death toll is rising.

An article in Time detailed a report in Deutsches Ärzteblatt, the German Medical Association’s official international science journal. It found after many decades of decline, the global death rate during anesthesia is rising again, to about seven patients in every million.

The article pointed to an alarmingly high rate of deaths in older patients within a year after a general anesthesia with as many as one in 10 dying. The article warned of a decrease in the overall quality of anesthesiological care.

A 2009 study by the medical journal Anesthesiology found anesthesia mistakes are linked to about 34 deaths in the United States annually and are a contributing factor to more than 275 other patient deaths. Human error is a factor in up to 87 percent of cases.

There are a number of types of anesthesia errors in hospitals. Some of the more common ones include:

1 Anesthesia overdose

It’s important to know the side-effects and impacts of an anesthesia overdose that can indicate medical malpractice has occurred. These include:

  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Dementia
  • Breathing problems
  • Hypothermia
  • Hallucinations
  • Seizures
  • Mental or physical impairment
  • Prolonged periods of unconsciousness
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Death

Even patients who received a local anesthetic for minor surgery can suffer from side effects of an anesthesia overdose or a dangerous or deadly reaction to the anesthesia. There have been well-documented cases in Virginia of children who died under anesthesia administered by dentists.

Not all side effects of an anesthesia overdose are temporary. Some people suffer long-term complications. Studies referenced in the journal Scientific American indicate higher dosages of anesthesia lead to an increased risk of delirium post-surgery.

2 Failure to Properly Monitor Patients

The failure to monitor patients correctly during surgery can lead to serious or fatal mistakes in the operating room. The anesthesiologist is responsible for regulating a patient’s level of consciousness during procedures as well as oxygen levels. Failure to monitor can result in serious brain injury or death.

3 Administering Too Little Anesthesia

Although overdoes are among the most common anesthesia errors, administering too little anesthesia can also have horrific consequences.

The level of anesthesia given to a patient is based on body weight, gender and age. Too little anesthesia can lead to a terrifying experience during a surgical procedure in which the patient wakes up but is paralyzed and unable to speak. The patient feels the extreme pain of the procedure but cannot understand what is happening. This kind of anesthesia error can result in extreme psychological trauma.

4 Failure to Correctly Intubate

The anesthesiologist must intubate the patient during surgery to allow breathing. This is crucial because a failure to maintain proper airflow to the patient can result in brain injury or even death. Ensuring proper breathing is a meticulous process. Anesthesiologists may cause injuries during intubation by failing to take adequate care.

5 Failure to Research a Patient’s Medical History

Medical professionals must check records to establish whether a patient is allergic or will have a reaction to a certain drugs used during anesthesia.

Smith Law Center Attorneys

About Smith Law Center

Our lawyers are more than lawyers. They are people who understand your injuries and the law that surrounds your options when it comes to holding others accountable.

Hire an Experienced Virginia Anesthesia Injury Lawyer

Injuries from anesthesia errors may be extremely serious. They can ruin a patient’s quality of life or lead to death. In these complicated cases, it’s vital to hire a leading medical malpractice attorney. Hospitals have experienced legal teams and will seek to dismiss your claim.

The Smith Law Center is headed up by attorney Stephen M. Smith who is also the founder of the Brain Injury Law Center. He has been litigating medical malpractice cases for more than 44 years, while handling other serious and catastrophic injuries across the United States and the world. He won the largest personal injury verdict in the history of Virginia and the largest mild traumatic brain injury verdict awarded in the world.

He is joined by an experienced legal team who fight cases across the country to ensure their clients receive justice. Call us at (757) 695-9425 if you or a loved one has suffered injuries from anesthesia errors in Virginia or elsewhere.


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