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Understanding the Types and Effects of Anesthesia Errors

January 19, 2017 Medical Malpractice

Anesthesia is a drug-induced state in which a patient should not feel the pain during a medical procedure. To achieve certain results for various types of injures, different combinations and concentrations of the drug are issued by a licensed anesthesiologist. There are 3 types of anesthesia: local, regional, and general.

Local, Regional, and General Anesthesia, Explained

There are a variety of anesthetic drugs used for various reasons during surgical procedures–all of which may generate different results. Some types of anesthesia include:

  • Local anesthesia is used for minor procedures, such as receiving stitches for a minor cut
  • Regional anesthesia is a bigger local anesthetic. For example, nerve blocks and spinal anesthetics can numb entire portions of the body while still keeping the patient conscious.
  • General anesthesia is when a patient goes entirely unconscious. Major procedures require general anesthesia because they often involve large incisions or lengthy operations.

Types of Anesthesia Errors

Surgery is risky in general. The use of anesthesia just adds to the list of potential risks. Anesthesia requires constant monitoring, especially during major surgical procedures.

It is important for the anesthesiologist to have an updated list of medical history and list of allergies. Knowing those things will help determine the proper chemical cocktail. Still, mistakes can happen when the margin between adequate sedation and permanent damage is so small.

Typically, everything goes as planned. It is important, however, to understand all the risks prior to any operation.

Local Anesthetic Errors

Local anesthesia is relatively safe. Topical gels or small injections are used to numb the small area. The main concern with local anesthesia is the risk of the chemical reaching the blood supply. Getting the anesthetic chemical into the bloodstream can cause complications of the heart rate and blood pressure.

With topical gels, this is a very unlikely event. For small injections, the risk is still unlikely—but it is possible.

Regional Anesthetic Errors

In order to stop sensation from, for example, both legs, the anesthesiologist might numb the nerves in the spine that are associated with the legs. This method can be called a nerve block.

Nerve block is accomplished with either a gradual epidural injection or a single dose injection of anesthesia. The goal is to effectively numb the area without getting the chemicals into the blood, as well as to not damage any nerves in the spine.

Injuries from Regional Anesthetic Errors

  • Anesthesia reaching the bloodstream, causing heart complications such as heart attacks or high blood pressure.
  • Nerve damage. Victims who have damaged nerves often complain of an ache that won’t go away. Other times it can be excruciatingly painful to do simple tasks. Any injury to the spinal cord is taken very seriously, as they can be long-term or even lifelong injuries.

General Anesthetic Errors

In very lengthy and complex operations, general anesthesia is used. You both lose consciousness and feeling for the duration of the procedure. Once someone has “gone under,” the body becomes very relaxed—so much so that the muscles in the throat have to be held open to keep the body breathing normally. This is called intubation. Errors during intubation are the most common during general anesthesia.

Injuries from General Anesthetic Errors

  • Throat damage
  • Damage to the teeth
  • Difficulties breathing, leading to a possible heart attack

Were You a Victim of an Anesthesia Error? Let a Malpractice Attorney Help

If you or a loved one suffered from an injury caused by anesthesia, come speak with the medical malpractice attorneys at WKW. We have legal nurse consultants that assist in nearly every medical malpractice case. This way, we’re one step closer to a malpractice win. Reach us at 317-920-6400 or fill out the contact form below for a free consultation.

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