Medical Malpractice:

Anesthetic Surgical or Medical Errors

One type of medical malpractice involves surgical errors. A surgical error occurs when a surgeon, anesthesiologist, surgical resident or nursing staff makes a mistake that results in a medical malpractice damage to the patient. Surgical errors can occur in many situations such as a patient mix-up or when a surgeon claiming to be present during a surgery is in fact not present during critical times. Medical errors related to surgery can include failure to inform patient of risks, failure to monitor patient during and after surgery, performing the wrong surgery or surgery on the wrong area of the body, leaving surgical instruments in the body of the patient, perforation or laceration of organs or blood vessels, failure to detect and treat internal bleeding, post surgical infections, and anesthetic errors.

Anesthetic errors are a serious form of medical malpractice. Many surgical patients undergo anesthesia since it blocks the brain from the perception of pain, allowing surgery to be relatively pain free. Since it is such a precise process, there is a great potential for error and a qualified anesthesiologist should be present to observe and avoid anesthesia error. Common causes of anesthetic error are:

  • Overdose/Underdose: An overdose of anesthesia can cause failure of the organs, brain damage, and death. On the other hand, a patient may wake up in the middle of surgery, without being able to notify the surgeon of his condition, if given an underdose of anesthesia.
  • Allergies to common anesthetics: Many people have drug allergies. It is the responsibility of the anesthesiologist to use chemicals that will not be harmful to the patient.
  • Interactions between anesthesia and other drugs: If doctors fail to check the interaction between the anesthetics being used and drugs in the patient’s system, the effect can be dangerous.
  • Failure to advise on food and water interactions: It is the doctor’s responsibility to inform the patient not to eat or drink within 24 hours of the surgery as this may increase the potential for complications.
  • Use of EKG or electrocardiogram: Sometimes an anesthesiologist uses an EKG to monitor a patient’s heart rate and adjust the level of anesthesia based on the EKG reading. However, an EKG device is sensitive and many factors may interfere to cause an inaccurate EKG reading.

With an increasing number of surgeries being performed every year, surgical errors are occurring more and more frequently. A victim of surgical, anesthetic, or other medical error may be entitled to monetary compensation for his or her suffering.