What are the consequences of an anesthesia error?


Going in for surgery is almost always an intimidating event. Some physicians
will even prescribe anti-anxiety medication for patients who have excess
worry regarding what can go wrong. While most surgeries proceed without
many problems, surgery carries inherent risk, as does the anesthesia which
accompanies the procedure. Some Houston-area patients may be wondering,
what are the risks of an
anesthesia error before or during surgery?

Many patients’ fears revolve around general anesthesia. This type of
anesthesia puts a patient completely to sleep so that no pain is felt
during surgery. In rare cases, however – up to two out of every 1,000
patients – a person may temporarily awake while under general anesthesia.
However, in most cases they still do not feel any pain. In extremely rare
cases, a patient may feel severe pain despite being under general anesthesia
and may even develop post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of their
terrifying ordeal.

Other potential consequences of anesthesia complications include heart
attack, infection in the lungs or stroke. In addition, some patients may
suffer damage to their teeth, tongue or vocal cords. In order to help
prevent these and other complications, patients must be carefully monitored
while under general anesthesia. A failure to properly watch breathing,
pulse and blood pressure can be highly threatening to a patient’s
wellbeing and can be negligent on the part of a nurse or doctor.

Risk factors for anesthesia errors include surgery being done on an emergency
basis, a patient’s medication use, Cesarean section surgeries, existing
lung or heart problems in a patient and a patient’s use of alcohol.
Additional risk factors are improper monitoring of a patient during the
process or improper amounts of anesthesia administered to the patient.

A medical mistake involving general anesthesia can, unfortunately, culminate
in serious injury or the loss of a loved one. Patients who experience
complications from surgery, or families who have lost a member to surgery
error, may have a malpractice claim.

Source: Mayo Clinic, “General anesthesia,” accessed Jan. 10, 2015