During a surgery, you have to trust that the medical professionals in the operating room will perform their jobs to the best of their ability. While you may be able to check out the credentials of your doctor or surgeon, most people meet their anesthesiologist only briefly directly before the surgery takes place. As a result, people are often less aware of who their anesthesiologist is and what he or she will be doing to guarantee their safety.
Anesthesiologists tread the line between life and death, and keep patients at the optimum levels of unconsciousness. When there are errors with the gases or medications used for sedation, the results to the patients can be disastrous. Only in the most extreme cases, however, will a patient even know that an anesthesia error has occurred.
Role of the Anesthesiologist
The anesthesiologist does more than just administer drugs which cause sedation. Before a surgery, the anesthesiologist will evaluate the patient before surgery, and determine how the patient’s injury or illness may react with any of the anesthesia medications.
During surgery, the anesthesiologist will administer sedation and monitor the patient’s vital signs and oxygen levels. The anesthesiologist will check to make sure that the patient is fully sedated, and that he or she does not come out of sedation too early.
After an operation, a surgeon will usually rely on the anesthesiologist for most of the medical decisions with the patient’s health. The anesthesiologist will monitor the patient for evidence of recovery from the anesthetics, including increased activity, adequate breathing rates, good blood circulation, and increasing levels of consciousness. He or she will also make sure that the patient’s pain is controlled.
Most of the time, when something goes wrong with the anesthesia, it is caught and corrected before a patient ever wakes up. When a serious problem is discovered after surgery, however, the anesthesia or anesthesiologist may be to blame.
When an anesthesia error occurs, it can be the result of defective equipment or the result of negligence by one of the medical professionals in the operating room. When the error is caused by the anesthesiologist or another person on the staff, it can usually be blamed on:
- Administering too much or too little of a drug,
- Delayed delivery of the anesthesia,
- Failing to account for interactions with medications, conditions, or allergies,
- Failing to instruct a patient on pre-operative procedures,
- Failing to deliver or monitor a patient’s oxygen levels, or
- Failing to properly supervise nurses or other medical staff.
When there is a mistake with the anesthesia, victims can face a multitude of medical complications. A patient who receives too little oxygen during a surgery may sustain brain damage, or may die on the operating table. Drug interactions can cause serious medical issues, and too much anesthesia may lead to a coma or brain death.
Anesthesiologists have a complicated and incredibly important job. When an anesthesiologist’s negligence leads to a mistake, the person injured by that mistake often has grounds for a medical malpractice lawsuit.
At the Trial Law Offices of Bradley I. Kramer, M.D., Esq., our attorneys help people injured by anesthesia errors or mistakes. If you were injured by medical negligence or malpractice, our experienced staff of legal and medical professionals can evaluate your case and help you understand your rights. If you would like to speak with a knowledgeable Los Angeles medical malpractice attorney, contact Dr. Bradley I. Kramer, Esq. today by calling (310) 289-2600 or use our online case evaluation form to have your claim reviewed for free.