What Can Go Wrong When Using Anesthesia?
Because different forms of anesthesia affect your senses and spinal function, many things can go wrong if the drug is not administered properly. Studies estimate that seven in every million patients die from an anesthesia error, with many more sustaining injuries. If anesthesiologists do not follow protocol, many things can go wrong.
General Anesthesia Complications:
- Aspiration Pneumonitis – During prolonged periods of unconsciousness, the patient can vomit and inhale the content into their lungs. The vomit can cause lung inflammation and an infection. Patients should be instructed to fast before undergoing anesthesia to avoid aspiration pneumonitis.
- Anaphylaxis – Doctors must review a patient’s medical history and any record of allergies to anesthesia. Failure to do so can result in traumatic injuries. Common side effects include rash, hypertension, angioedema, and vomiting.
- Damage to the Teeth – A significant number of anesthesia malpractice cases site dental damage as anesthesia’s side effects. The various equipment can cause the harm.
- Peripheral Nerve Damage – Because of the prolonged prone position of the patient, peripheral nerve damage is a serious concern. Exaggerated positions cause nerve suppression that can cause lasting injury.
- Misintubation or Inadvertent Intubation – When a patient’s breathing tube is inserted into the bronchus rather than the trachea, it can cause the other lung to collapse from lack of air. This condition is also known as right mainstem bronchus intubation.
- Misplacement of LMA – Laryngeal Mouthpiece Airway misplacement results in a similar condition as misintubation. It ends with less oxygen to the brain, causing or worsening hypoxemia.
- Anesthesia Overdose – Anesthesia overdosing is the chiefest and most inexcusable mistake a medical professional can make. It’s entirely preventable and causes lifelong injury. Propofol overdose or midazolam overdose (known as Versed in its oral form) are some of the most worst anesthesia mistakes a patient can suffer.
- Xanax Toxicity (or benzodiazepine / alprazolam overdose) – Administered for anxiety, Xanax is relatively safe even when taken in slight excess. However, when professionals administer too much, it can cause confusion, create breathing difficulties, and lead to a coma.
Regional Anesthesia Complications:
- Hypotension – Because spinal anesthesia blocks sympathetic nerves, the patient’s blood pressure can drop significantly. Patients with a history of cardiac problems can form myocardial ischemia.
- Neurological Deficits – Because regional anesthesia commonly affects the spine, it poses some serious risks of injuries. Patients may experience cauda equina, a syndrome that causes swelling in the lower spinal cord. This can lead to nerve damage and paralysis. Another potential neurological deficit includes adhesive arachnoiditis, an incurable inflammation in the membranes surrounding the spinal cord.
- Total Spinal Block – Administration of large dosages of anesthesia into the spinal cord can result in total spinal block. This affects sensory levels and muscle paralysis. If it moves up the spine, it can also affect respiratory function.
If doctors and anesthesiologists do not take precautions and follow protocol, they put the patient at risk. Because anesthesia can affect the nerve and spinal cord, if an error occurs, it can cause lasting harm. If you were seriously injured because of a doctor’s failure or negligence, you may be eligible for compensation. Call today to speak with our Houston medical malpractice attorneys.