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What Can Happen When an Anesthesia Error Occurs?

Medical professional administers anesthesia to a patient

When you need to be temporarily put to sleep for a medical procedure, you may be administered gases or drugs so that you are unconscious for the event, referred to as anesthesia.

Going under anesthesia can be nerve-wracking for several reasons, but your anesthesiologist making an error should never be one of them.

If for some unfortunate reason, an anesthesia provider makes a mistake, serious consequences can result. Read on to learn what they are.

Consequences of Anesthesia Errors

Anesthesia is a significant worldwide problem that causes harm to patients and higher costs to healthcare providers. The following are the incidence rates of some of the most common injuries patients sustain as a result of anesthesia errors:

  • Sore throat
    • Tracheal tube - 45%
    • Laryngeal mask - 20%
    • Face mask - 10%
  • Oral trauma
    • All oral trauma - 5%
    • All dental injury - 1%
    • Requiring intervention - 0.02%
  • Peripheral nerve injury (permanent and temporary)
    • General anesthesia - 0.4%
    • Spinal/epidural anesthesia - 0.03%
    • Nerve block - 0.02%
  • Awareness
    • Without muscle relaxants - 0.3%
    • With muscle relaxants - 0.03%
  • Ocular injury - 0.1%
  • Anaphylaxis - 0.01%
  • Death
    • All patients - 0.02%
    • ASA I and II - 0.001%
  • Blindness - 0.0008%

Dental Injuries

Dental injuries are of the most common types of harm that patients pursue medical malpractice cases for. These types of injuries occur during 1% of general anesthetics and are typically endured during laryngoscopy.

The upper incisors are the teeth that are the most commonly injured during anesthesia, and those who tend to experience this type of injury are most often 50-75 years old.

Nerve Injuries

General anesthetics cause peripheral nerve injury 0.4% of the time, while regional anesthetics cause the injury 0.1% of the time. This type of injury usually occurs due to incorrect patient positioning.

The ulnar nerve is most often damaged (0.33%) when this type of injury occurs and is three times as likely as other nerves to sustain harm.

Other nerves that may be at risk during general anesthesia include:

  • Brachial plexus
  • Lumbosacral roots
  • Radial nerves
  • Sciatic nerves
  • Common peroneal nerves

Ophthalmic Injuries

While eye injuries as a result of anesthesia errors are rare (less than 0.1% during general anesthetics), they do happen and account for 2% of cases against anesthetists.

The most common ophthalmic injury that occurs due to anesthesia errors is a corneal abrasion and it is commonly caused by one of the following:

  • Direct trauma,
  • Exposure keratopathy, or
  • Chemical injury.

It is critical anesthetists ensure your eyes are closed while under anesthesia to avoid exposure keratopathy.

Prevalence of Anesthesia Errors

Unfortunately, studies show that human errors are a leading cause of anesthesia fatalities and cause 65-87% of all anesthesia-related deaths.

The inadequate experience of those who administer anesthesia and monitor patients causes 16% of anesthesia errors. In addition, insufficient familiarity with the equipment or device causes 9.3% of anesthesia errors, as opposed to just 5.6% of errors caused by haste, inattention, or carelessness.

We’re Here to Help Injured Victims of Medical Malpractice

If you’ve sustained an injury as a result of an anesthesia error or any other type of medical negligence, you may be owed compensation for your losses as well as any pain and suffering you have endured.

Don’t hesitate to reach out to our team right away to learn more about how we can help with your case. We have helped many other people in similar situations, and we will do our best to help you too.

If a medical professional caused your injuries and you need help with a medical malpractice lawsuit, contact the skilled attorneys at Berthold Law Firm, PLLC with the details of your case by calling (304) 605-2040 or by filling out our online contact form.

Related Posts
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  • Common Signs of a Brain Injury Read More
  • How Can I Prove Medical Malpractice Following a Brain Injury? Read More

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