Virginia Anesthesia Error Lawyer

If you have suffered injury due to an anesthesiologist’s error or negligence, or if a wrongful death has occurred in your family because of negligent anesthesiology care, it is imperative that you contact a Virginia malpractice lawyer without delay in order to protect your and your family’s rights.

When one undergoes an operation, be it major surgery or an outpatient procedure, the skill of the anesthesiologist is as important as that of the surgeon. In fact, many view anesthesia errors as more dangerous than surgical mistakes. This is because surgical patients literally rely on the anesthesiologist for the air they breathe and stable vital signs during the course of an operation. Most of the time, anesthesia mistakes are minor, caught quickly, and instantly corrected, causing no harm to the patient. But if they’re not swiftly detected, it can only take a minute or two to permanently injure a patient or inadvertently cause their wrongful death.

Anesthesiologists are personally accountable for the administration of drugs during surgery. While a patient is under anesthesia, most drug errors are partially, or completely, ascribed to human error. A slightly elevated dose of an administered drug can cause injuries that result in moderate to severe brain damage, permanent physical disability, and even wrongful death. If an anesthesiologist provides medical care that falls below the standard of care in their field and a patient is injured and suffers damages as a result, that patient may be successful in pursuing a medical malpractice claim against the anesthesiologist.

Anesthesia Background Information

Anesthesiologists are medical doctors who are personally responsible for drug administration during surgery.

They are required to undergo years of training so they will comply with very rigid medical standards and ethics. Like all licensed medical professionals, they have a legal duty to provide medical care consistent with the standard of care for their field or specialty in Virginia. This means a physician’s conduct will be evaluated in comparison to the degree of skill and diligence that a reasonably prudent doctor in the same field or specialty in Virginia would have exercised.  Because they are responsible for the lives of surgical patients once they have been sedated, anesthesiologists must be pay close attention to the vital signs of a patient to monitor for any problems.

In a 2009 study by the medical journal Anesthesiology, it was disclosed that anesthesia was found to be at least an underlying cause in approximately 34 deaths in the United States annually and a contributing factor to over 275 other patient deaths. Also, citing several other studies, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) recently concluded, “Human error is believed to be a factor that accounts for between from 65 to 87 percent of [unanticipated] deaths when anesthesia is administered.” Although the American Medical Association says that only one in 100,000 anesthesia patients might die during a surgical procedure,  when wrongful death occurs during a medical procedure requiring anesthesia, anesthesia errors are frequently one of the first potential causes investigated if medical malpractice is suspected.

Instances of Anesthesia Error

Anesthesia error cases are compounded by their complexity and can occur due to a wide variety of reasons. Some of the most common errors that injure patients include:

  • Failure to properly research a patient’s medical history; especially if a patient might be allergic to certain drugs
  • Failure to properly communicate preoperative requirements and procedures with a surgical team or the surgeon
  • Failure to avoid or detect possible harmful drug interactions
  • Improper or insufficient monitoring of a patient’s vital signs (which can lead to stoke, brain injury, heart attack, seizure, or other serious or fatal injuries)
  • Failure to properly incubate a patient (or improper placement of a breathing tube, which can damage the esophagus or cause loss of oxygen to the brain resulting in permanent injury)
  • Use of contaminated or defective equipment
  • Overdose or under-dose of anesthesia medication
  • Misuse of spinal anesthetics (which can damage spinal cord)

Other, less common errors can arise from aspiration pneumonia, vapor leakage, negligent administration of oxygen, and failure to properly assess complications or take proper action.

With so many things that can go wrong during anesthesia, the low cumulative percentages of serious injury indicate that anesthesia injuries are relatively uncommon. But no system is perfect, and mistakes, errors in judgment, and negligence do occur. If you or a loved one has been injured by an anesthesia error, consider seeking the guidance and representation of a knowledgeable Virginia malpractice attorney.

A Thorough Investigation and Medical Experts Help Build Your Strong Malpractice Case

A careful analysis of your medical records can identify the cause(s) and circumstances of your injury.  Such examinations also help determine whether the actions of the anesthesia team or the surgical team, or both, contributed to your injury. Our lawyers and medical advisors have the know-how to conduct a thorough investigation into medical mistakes and anesthesia errors or negligence. We are capably assisted by qualified medical experts who review these complicated records and also serve as expert witnesses on your behalf.

Such investigations may identify more than one potentially liable party who may also owe you legal damages, including the hospital or outpatient surgical facility if the evidence warrants.

Have You Been Injured by Anesthesia Error?  Contact an Experienced Attorney

If you have been harmed by a negligent anesthesiologist or other medical professional, or if a member of your family has suffered a wrongful death due to anesthesia or other surgical error, you have the right to seek compensation for damages, as well as pain and suffering, through a medical malpractice lawsuit.  Deceased victims’ families also may seek compensation on behalf of their family member.  In Virginia it is vital to act quickly due to the statute of limitations. Contact a Virginia malpractice attorney today for a free consultation.