Anesthesia Errors and Medical Malpractice

Anesthesia Errors and Medical Malpractice

Many surgical procedures are performed under general anesthesia. Anesthetics are drugs that are used to keep patients from experiencing pain and can be administered to provide local numbing or to induce unconsciousness. Anesthetics work in a few different ways based on the combination of the drugs that are administered and the type of procedure. Different drug combinations will also have risks associated with each drug, and these risks can add to the potential risks of a procedure. Because of the risks involved with anesthesia, patients should be carefully monitored. Anesthesiologists mistakes can cause serious harm or potential death. Here is what you need to know about anesthesia mistakes from the Philadelphia PA medical malpractice attorneys at Raynes & Lawn.

Types of Anesthesia

The type of anesthesia you might need will depend on the procedure. Local anesthesia might be used to numb a localized area before a procedure. For example, dentists typically use local anesthesia to perform certain dental procedures. The anesthetics might be applied topically or with injections.

Regional anesthesia might be used when a patient doesn’t need to be unconscious but requires a large section of the body to be number. A common example of regional anesthesia is used for Caesarian sections. While the mother needs to be awake during the delivery, she might receive an epidural shot near a nerve bundle to numb her from the abdomen down.

General anesthesia is used for major procedures that require the patient to be unconscious. Lengthy operations typically require general anesthesia. However, general anesthesia carries a higher risk of serious complications, so the patients must be carefully monitored throughout the procedure and during the recovery period.

Anesthesia Mistakes

Anesthesia adds to the risks involved with a surgical procedure. An anesthesiologist must have the patient’s up-to-date medical history and a list of allergies. These types of information are important for the anesthesiologist to create the correct chemical cocktail. Errors might include failing to obtain an updated medical history from the patient, giving too much or too little anesthetic to a patient, and others.

With local anesthesia, the primary concern is making sure the local anesthetic doesn’t get into the blood supply. If it does, it can result in blood pressure and heart rate problems. The risk of this happening is much lower if the local anesthetic is a topical solution. Regional anesthesia errors might also include damaging the nerves near the injection site, getting anesthetics into the bloodstream, or failing to give enough anesthetic to numb the targeted region.

General anesthesia carries greater risks. The most common types of errors in general anesthesia are mistakes made during intubation. This can result in damage to the throat, trouble breathing, and a potential heart attack if the oxygen flow is disrupted.

Complications from Anesthesia

When an anesthesiologist administers the correct combination of drugs before a surgical procedure, it can make it much easier for patients. The skeletal muscles might need to be relaxed for certain procedures. Anesthesia can also keep a patient from experiencing pain and prevent them from moving. When general anesthesia is performed correctly, the patient will be unconscious and won’t remember the experience.

Anesthesia mistakes can cause emotional, mental, and physical consequences and could potentially be fatal. Multiple complications can occur because of anesthesia errors, including aspirating stomach contents, stroke, high blood pressure, brain damage, and remaining awake during the surgery without being able to tell the surgeon.

During the procedure, the patient must be continuously monitored to prevent these complications from occurring. If a doctor failed to appropriately monitor a patient, resulting in complications and injuries from anesthesia, there might be a viable malpractice claim.

How Do Anesthesia Errors Happen?

Anesthesia errors typically are caused by human mistakes. An anesthesiologist who doesn’t check the patient’s medical history or doesn’t inform the patient of the risks involved with anesthesia could be liable for damages in a malpractice lawsuit. Some ways that anesthesia errors can happen include the following:

  • Failing to explain the anesthesia procedure, its risks, and its requirements
  • Poor communication in the surgery room
  • Administering anesthetics too late
  • Administering too much or too little anesthesia
  • Keeping a patient under general anesthesia for too long
  • Failing to properly monitor the patient
  • Failing to promptly intervene when a patient starts having complications
  • Improperly intubating a patient
  • Turning of alarms on monitoring equipment
  • Placing an oxygen machine too close to hot surgical devices

If your anesthesiologist or members of the surgical team made any of these types of errors, you might have grounds to file a malpractice lawsuit if you suffered injuries and harm as a result.

Talk to Our Philadelphia PA Medical Malpractice Lawyers

Your anesthesiologist plays a critical role in a surgical procedure and is expected to provide care that meets the expected standard. If you or your loved one suffered serious injuries because of an anesthesiologist’s mistake, you should reach out to the Philadelphia medical malpractice law firm of Raynes & Lawn. Our Philadelphia medical malpractice attorneys have decades of experience helping malpractice victims and their families recover compensation for their losses. We can review what happened in your case during your free case evaluation and help you understand the merits of your potential claim. Call us today at 1-800-535-1797 to learn more.




For the general public:  This Blog/Website is made available by the law firm publisher, Raynes & Lawn, for educational purposes. It provides general information and a general understanding of the law but does not provide specific legal advice. By using this site, commenting on posts, or sending inquiries through the site or contact email, you confirm that there is no attorney-client relationship between you and the Blog/Website publisher. The Blog/Website should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed attorney in your jurisdiction.


For attorneys:  This Blog/Website is informational in nature and is not a substitute for legal research or a consultation on specific matters pertaining to your clients.  Due to the dynamic nature of legal doctrines, what might be accurate one day may be inaccurate the next. As such, the contents of this blog must not be relied upon as a basis for arguments to a court or for your advice to clients without, again, further research or a consultation with our professionals.