Steps to take if you or loved ones are harmed by anesthesia errors
Medical malpractice is something which is done (or is not done—an “omission”) by a medical professional which causes harm to a patient. Mistakes during the admission of anesthesia, mislabeling of IV drips, and other errors can mentally or psychologically harm (even kill) a patient.
A Harvard Medical School study indicated that half of the nearly 3,500 surgeries analyzed involved some sort errors or errata regarding medication or anesthetic. Regardless of what form it takes, anesthesia errors are a form of medical malpractice. If you or a loved one was injured by anesthesia errors, you may be entitled to financial compensation.
The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) reported in 2012 that hospitals and medical centers in the United States spent $3 billion on malpractice settlement payouts in 2012.
Anesthesia errors, though rare, do sometimes take place. They can be even more harmful, both psychologically and physically, than surgical mistakes. The slightest mistake by an anesthesiologist may cause a patient lasting harm, including brain damage, disfiguring injury, psychological trauma, or death. Of particular concern is “anesthetic awareness,” where the victim remains awake and conscious during surgery but is paralyzed and unable to move or cry out, and is thereby forced to helplessly experience the pain of the procedure. Researchers guess that there may be as many as 4,000 cases of anesthetic awareness in the US every year.
The tricky thing about anesthetic is that it affects each person differently. Each individual needs a specific dose depending on their weight, medical history, and other factors. Anesthesiologists fail to live up to the minimum “standard of care” when they neglect to check into a patient’s medical background for potential problems, or when they fail to tell the patient to do certain things before the surgical procedure begins (like avoiding food for a certain number of hours).
Also common are dosage issues—when the anesthesiologist administers too much or too little anesthesia, causing the patient to slip into a coma or wake up in the middle of a procedure. When an anesthesiologist neglects to keep a sharp eye on a patient’s vital signs, that can also constitute a professional failing—as well as endanger the patient’s life. Improper intubation and the use of defective equipment are also grounds for medical malpractice lawsuits in anesthesia errors cases.
Anesthesia Errors in the News
In 1998, Carol Weihrer went under the knife for an ocular enucleation—the complete removal of her right eye. Moments before the procedure was about to begin, she regained consciousness on the operating table. The paralytic drugs she’d been administered completely prohibited her from motioning or crying out, however. She was forced to endure the sight and sensation of her right eye being removed
“In my mind, I was screaming at the top of my voice,” she said later. “I thought I should have flown off the table with all the effort I was making. I was praying. I was doing everything I could. I was willing to sell my soul to get off that table.”
Liability and Anesthesia Errors
Don’t hesitate to hire a lawyer if you or a loved one has been injured or killed by an inept anesthesiologist. Depending on the circumstances of the incident and its after-effects, you may be able to obtain a financial settlement by filing a medical malpractice lawsuit against the hospital or medical center where the anesthesia errors took place. It must be said, however, that the burden of proof lies with you. Your lawyer must establish that you were depending on your anesthesiologist to protect you from pain and injury, and that they were negligent in the discharge of their duties, and that negligence caused you lasting injury.
Negligence is the term to remember here. Someone was negligent in labeling of an IV drip, or inserting an intubation tube, or administering the correct amount of anesthetic. If you can prove that this negligence caused you or a loved one harm, then you stand a good chance of being awarded a financial settlement.
Juries, when deciding whether or not to award compensation to an anesthesia errors victim, take into account the “standard of care.” Would a reasonably competent anesthesiologist have made the same error under similar circumstances? A talented victims’ rights attorney will bring in anesthesiologists from other hospitals to give expert testimony and establish the proper standard of care which was to be met in your case. Then the jury can decide whether or not your anesthesiologist was negligent in their duties.
Reasons to Hire an Anesthesia Errors Attorney
As the above example makes clear, you need aggressive and competent legal representation when it comes to anesthesia errors in California. You should immediately hire a lawyer if you or loved ones have been harmed at the hands of an incompetent anesthesiologist, before witnesses disappear and evidence gets moved around or lost. An experienced attorney will start collecting documents, retaining medical experts, and conducting a thorough investigation to give you the best chance in court. You should research potential attorneys thoroughly and make sure they are assertive and confident and won’t settle for anything less than the settlement you deserve. Years of experience in personal injury law helps, too. Finally, your lawyer should not balk at the prospect of spending money out-of-pocket to hire experts to testify—without that, your case will be severely hampered.
Estey Bomberger Fights for Victims’ Rights in California
The law firm of Estey Bomberger has the legal know-how and the years of hard-won experience to help you win your anesthesia errors case. We represent victims statewide who’ve been hurt by medical malpractice in California hospitals. We’re prepared to go the distance when it comes to getting you the legal representation and expert legal testimony you deserve. We’ll help you get compensated for you or your loved one’s pain and suffering and other monetary damages. Get in touch with the law firm of Estey Bomberger at 1.800.925.0723 or go to www.ebtrialattorneys.com.