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Anesthesia Malpractice Lawyers in Houston, TX


anesthesia malpractice

When undergoing surgery or any medical procedure requiring anesthesia, patients place immense trust in the hands of the healthcare professionals treating them. Anesthesia is incredibly useful in the world of medicine, but while it’s generally safe, it does carry inherent risks. Those risks can be heightened when medical errors occur, potentially leading to catastrophic outcomes and anesthesia malpractice.

If you or a loved one has suffered from injuries as a result of anesthesia malpractice, call the Houston medical malpractice attorneys at Reich & Binstock. We are here to listen to your story, evaluate your case, and guide you through the legal process with compassion and expertise.

Call us at (713) 622-7271 to schedule a free consultation with a member of our team.

What Is Anesthesia?

Anesthesia is a medical intervention designed to help numb or sedate a patient before a medical procedure through the use of medications. It works by temporarily blocking the nerves in a certain area of the body or by making the patient partially or fully unconscious. This allows the patient to undergo surgery or a medical procedure without experiencing the distress and pain that they would almost certainly experience without anesthesia.

Anesthesia is administered by anesthesiologists and nurse anesthetists, who are specially trained to administer anesthesia medications, monitor patient vital signs, and adjust dosages as needed. Their job is to ensure that the patient is sufficiently numbed or sedated for their surgical procedure without causing the patient harm.

Types of Surgical Anesthesia

too much anesthesia

There are a few different types of anesthesia, all of which are used in different circumstances. Below are the three types of anesthesia patients may receive for various medical procedures.

General anesthesia can be administered to render a patient completely unconscious during a medical procedure. Since this medication affects the entire body, it’s normally reserved for serious, invasive procedures, like heart or brain surgery. This type of anesthesia is administered through either inhalation or intravenous (IV) drugs.

After administering general anesthesia, an anesthesiologist or nurse anesthetist will carefully monitor the patient’s vital signs throughout the procedure and adjust the anesthesia level as needed. This will ensure the patient remains unconscious and stable throughout the surgery. The recovery from general anesthesia can involve side effects like nausea, drowsiness, and confusion, which typically resolve within hours or days.

What Are the Risks of General Anesthesia?

While general anesthesia is generally safe and commonly used, it does carry certain risks, particularly in patients with existing health conditions. Potential complications can include allergic reactions to anesthetic agents, breathing difficulties, and changes in blood pressure or heart rate during the procedure.

Postoperative confusion and memory loss, known as postoperative cognitive dysfunction, can occur, especially in older adults. Less common but more severe risks involve damage to the vocal cords, heart attack, stroke, or even anesthesia awareness, where a patient becomes semi-conscious during the procedure.

Anesthesiologists and certified registered nurse anesthetists (CRNAs) are trained on how to administer anesthesia properly and how to monitor the patient to avoid these complications. When they fail to provide the patient with diligent medical care, they can cause the patient to suffer from serious injuries or even death, which can lead to a medical malpractice lawsuit.

Regional anesthesia is used to numb a larger part of the body, allowing the patient to remain awake or sedated without feeling pain in the specific area being operated on. Common types include spinal anesthesia and epidural anesthesia, which are often used in childbirth and lower body surgeries.

Since this form of anesthesia only numbs a part of the body, the medication must be administered in the right place. Regional anesthesia is normally injected near the nerves that control sensation for a specific part of the body.

For example, if a patient receives epidural anesthesia, they’ll receive an injection in the space around their spinal cord where their lower abdominal nerves meet the spinal cord. This will block the pain receptors in their lower abdominal region from sending nerve impulses to the brain, preventing the patient from feeling pain in that area of their body.

While regional anesthesia is generally considered safer than general anesthesia, it still requires careful monitoring and precise administration to avoid complications like nerve damage or inadequate pain control.

Local anesthesia is used for minor surgical procedures and is often applied to a small, specific area of the body, numbing it for a few hours. This type of anesthesia is often administered via injection or a topical cream or jell, which blocks nerve signals in a small, targeted area.

Local anesthesia is normally used in procedures like dental work, skin biopsy, or cataract surgery. It has a lower risk of complications and typically allows patients to remain fully awake and alert during their procedure. However, the effectiveness of local anesthesia depends on accurate placement and dosage, as well as the patient’s response to the anesthetic agent.

What Are Anesthesia Errors?

anesthesia malpractice lawyer

Anesthesia errors are any preventable mistakes made during the administration and management of anesthesia. These errors can occur in various forms and at different stages of a medical procedure. Below are some of the most common anesthetic errors that can occur as a result of improper anesthesia administration or poor patient monitoring.

If you have suffered from personal injuries as a result of any of the following anesthesia errors, you may be able to file an anesthesia malpractice case. Call the medical malpractice attorneys at (713) 622-7271 to schedule a free consultation regarding your case.

Wrong Dosage

In some circumstances, medical professionals fail to provide their patients with the correct dose of anesthetic. Administering too much anesthesia can lead to prolonged unconsciousness or other life-threatening complications. On the other hand, too little anesthesia can result in inadequate pain relief and anesthesia awareness during surgery.

This type of error often stems from miscalculations, miscommunication, or failure to consider a patient’s medical history, weight, and overall health. Precise dosing is critical, as even small deviations can significantly impact patient safety and the outcome of the procedure.

Wrong Type of Anesthesia

Another common anesthetic mistake is using the wrong type of anesthesia. This can happen when an anesthesiologist selects an anesthetic that is inappropriate for the patient’s medical condition or the nature of their surgery. For example, if an anesthesiologist puts the patient under general anesthesia for a procedure that should’ve only needed regional anesthesia, they put the patient at a higher risk for complications and injury.

Additionally, using an anesthetic agent that the patient is allergic to can result in a severe allergic reaction. Certain people may be allergic to certain kinds of anesthesia, making it important for medical professionals to review the patient’s medical record before administering any medication.

Failure to Properly Induce a Patient

When administering general anesthesia, patients go through multiple induction stages, and a failure to get the patient through these induction stages can have dire consequences. To properly induce the patient, the anesthesiologist must administer the correct type and dose of anesthesia and must also ensure the patient smoothly transitions into an unconscious state.

Errors during induction can lead to complications like aspiration, where a patient inhales stomach contents into their lungs, or awareness during the surgical procedure. This process requires meticulous attention to detail and careful monitoring to ensure the patient’s airway is secured and that the patient’s vital signs are stable throughout the induction process.

Failure to Properly Manage Fluids and Medications

Another common anesthesia error is a failure to manage fluids and medications during anesthesia properly. If the patient has the incorrect fluid balance, they could suffer from dehydration or fluid overload, both of which can cause serious complications, especially in patients with pre-existing heart or kidney conditions.

Additionally, mismanagement of medications, such as neglecting to administer necessary drugs or giving harmful ones, can cause adverse reactions and affect the patient’s recovery process. Anesthesiologists need a comprehensive knowledge of the medications they are administering as well as the patient’s medical history, and must pay meticulous attention to the patient’s needs throughout the medical procedure.

What Are Complications and Injuries Associated with Anesthesia Malpractice?

can too much anesthesia cause brain damage

There are many different complications and injuries that patients can suffer from as a result of anesthesia malpractice, some of which can result in permanent injury or even death.

    • Aspiration pneumonia – inhalation of stomach contents during anesthesia
    • Anaphylaxis – severe allergic reaction
    • Hypoxia – lack of oxygen to the body or brain
    • Hypercapnia – excessive carbon dioxide in the bloodstream
  • Cardiovascular complications
  • Nerve damage
  • Airway injuries – normally caused by intubation
  • Malignant hyperthermia – rapid rise in body temperature and severe muscle contractions
  • Awareness during anesthesia – a condition where a patient becomes conscious during surgery
  • Thromboembolism – blood clot that obstructs blood vessels
  • Postoperative cognitive dysfunction (POCD) – a decline in cognitive function following surgery under anesthesia
  • Postoperative nausea and vomiting (PONV) – nausea and vomiting after anesthesia

When Are Anesthesia Errors Considered Medical Malpractice?

Medical professionals are required to provide their patients with a minimum standard of care. When they fail to do so, they can cause their patient injury. Anesthesia errors can be considered medical malpractice when they occur as a result of a medical professional’s failure to adhere to the accepted standard of care.

For example, an anesthesiologist is expected to read the patient’s chart and give the patient the correct dose of anesthetic. If they fail to do so and give their patient too little anesthetic, the patient could experience pain or wake up during their procedure, causing them serious distress.

How to Prove Anesthesia Malpractice

In order to prove anesthesia malpractice occurred, the four elements of negligence must be present. These elements include:

  • A duty of care: a responsibility to provide the patient with a certain standard of care;
  • A breach of duty of care: a failure to meet that standard of care;
  • Causation: the link between the breach of care and the patient’s injuries; and
  • Damages: the losses the patient suffered from.

While it can be difficult to prove that medical negligence did occur in a given malpractice case, an experienced medical malpractice attorney will know exactly how to prove all elements of negligence were present. They do this by calling upon expert witnesses, who can help establish a baseline for anesthesia care. This gives the court a better understanding of what is expected from anesthesiologists and nurse anesthetists, which can help prove that the medical professional in question acted outside of the expected standard of care.

These attorneys will also be able to prove just how much the patient suffered as a result of the negligence, helping them recover compensation for all of their past and future losses. If you have suffered from an anesthesia error that resulted in injuries, contact the medical malpractice attorneys at Reich & Binstock. Our dedicated liability attorneys have extensive experience in filing medical malpractice lawsuits and can help ensure that you receive the justice you deserve.

Contact an Anesthesia Errors Attorney with Reich & Binstock

can you die from too much anesthesia

Anesthesiologists and CRNAs do so much more than administer drugs to patients before surgery. They’re responsible for ensuring the patient is properly numbed and/or sedated to keep the patient comfortable and to help the procedure go smoothly. When they fail to do so, they can cause the patient to suffer from physical and emotional distress.

If you or a loved one has suffered from an anesthesia error, an attorney at Reich & Binstock can help you file an anesthesia malpractice claim. We will pore over your medical records, contact expert witnesses, and build a strong, convincing case on your behalf.

We understand the profound impact that anesthesia errors can have on your health, livelihood, and overall well-being. Our dedicated attorneys are committed to fighting for the justice and compensation you deserve.

Call us at (713) 622-7271 or contact us online to schedule an appointment with a member of our legal team, free of charge.

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