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Can I Pursue a Medical Malpractice Claim for an Anesthesia Error?

anesthesia error

Anesthesia is used by anesthesiologists for the purpose of performing a medical procedure without causing pain to the patient. Anesthesia is a very important tool used to enable patient treatment and it is usually only beneficial, but when an anesthesia error is made it can cause very serious injuries.

When an anesthesia error caused by negligence harms the patient, the injured party may be able to recover damages such as pain and suffering, lost wages and medical bills through an anesthesia error claim.

What are anesthesia error injuries that lead to medical malpractice claims?

There are a range symptoms and health problems that can present after anesthesia, ranging from mild to serious. Thankfully, serious complications are relatively rare. Health complications include:

  • Pain
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Delirium
  • Tooth damage
  • Pneumonia and other respiratory issues
  • Allergic reaction (anaphylaxis)
  • Brain damage from lack of oxygen
  • Nerve injury
  • Blood clots
  • Anesthesia awareness (being conscious during a procedure)
  • Heart attack or stroke
  • Death

Anesthesia errors that can lead to a medical malpractice claim

These anesthesia errors can lead to medical malpractice claims:

  • Wrong dose
  • Improper intubation causing tooth damage
  • Failing to properly monitor patient vital signs / oxygen delivery
  • Turning off the alarm on the pulse oximeter (used to measure the patient’s blood oxygen level)
  • Failing to recognize or respond to complications in a timely manner
  • Failing to give proper pre-surgery instructions to patient
  • Failing to periodically move patient during a long surgery

Proving negligence in an anesthesia error claim

Medical malpractice claims are centered around medical negligence of the medical provider or hospital. In anesthesia error claims, a medical malpractice lawyer will hire an expert medical witness to decide if the patients injuries were caused by negligence. They will answer the question of whether the anesthesiologist or hospital failed to meet the duty of care expected of a qualified anesthesiologist / care facility performing in similar circumstances.

They will also look at factors such as:

  • The patient’s health / risk factors before the procedure,
  • the known complication rate of the type of anesthesia used during the surgery, and
  • whether the anesthesiologist or the hospital is responsible for the error.

Who is responsible for an anesthesia error?

There are many factors involved in determining who is responsible for an anesthesia error. The anesthesiologist’s employment contract will be reviewed to determine whether the anesthesiologist is an employee of the hospital or an independent contractor. Even when a doctor is an independent contractor, the courts may determine that they were an employee based on the amount of control the hospital has over the care provided to patients. There will also be analysis of what caused the error in determining liability. Malfunctioning equipment could be the responsibility of the hospital whereas administering the wrong dosage could fall under the responsibility of the anesthesiologist if he or she is an independent contractor or the hospital if he or she is a hospital employee (under vicarious liability).

The Seattle personal injury attorneys at Morrow Kidman Tinker Macey-Cushman, PLLC have years of experience representing families harmed by medical malpractice and other types of negligence. We seek justice for patients who have been harmed by preventable accidents and medical errors including birth injuries, hospital-acquired infections, diagnostic errors, prescription drug injuries and wrongful death in Seattle and across Washington State. There are no fees or expenses to file a personal injury case as we only receive payment if we recover damages on your behalf. Do not delay; personal injury claims come with a Statute of Limitations, which means they must be filed within a certain time frame of the injury.

Call us now at 206-842-1000 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation with one of our compassionate, experienced attorneys.