Anesthesiologists Hold Patient Lives in their Hands Says Cleveland Medical Malpractice Lawyer January 24, 2011.
When the lights go out prior to surgery, patients want to know they will wake up in one piece.
"It isn’t much wonder that people facing surgery in hospitals have second thoughts as the day draws closer. It is frightening to think of giving up control over your life to someone you may not ever meet. And you surely do not want to be meeting them in court later either if they are being sued for medical malpractice," said Christopher Mellino. Mellino is a Cleveland medical malpractice lawyer of the Mellino Law Firm LLC, in Ohio.
Most people understand that they cannot be awake during surgery due to the inability to withstand the excruciating pain it would cause. One wonders how WWI and WWII soldiers dealt with the pain of surgery during battle when often the only anesthetic was strong whiskey. Today of course, there are many variations of anesthesia to be administered, depending on what the patient is able to tolerate.
If anesthesia is not administered in a safe manner, it may cause more harm than the surgery. It fact, it may mean they die as a result of the anesthesia.
"Typically speaking, most anesthesia errors are the direct result of human error. The physician who is giving it must take painstaking care when dosing a patient. Their responsibility does not end there. They are also mandated to monitor the patient. Literally, your life is in their hands. If something goes wrong because the doctor was not paying attention, they may be guilty of medical malpractice," Mellino said.
The most common errors that take place during surgery and involving the anesthesiologist included giving the wrong dose for the patient, leaving a person sedated too long, not carefully monitoring vital signs while they are out and/or improperly inserting the tube used to deliver anesthesia. Any one of these mistakes has the potential to lead to serious, if not deadly, complications. "Those complications could include choking, a heart attack, or a stroke. And in really serious cases, death is the outcome. More so the longer someone is under," Mellino said.
Injuries like this tend to happen because some doctors may be overly confident that they know how a patient will react to a certain anesthetic, when in fact, every person reacts differently. Those with the most experience putting people under, while they may be confident, may still make mistakes. Those who are new to the practice may not be completely familiar with the proper procedures. There are also doctors who just do not care about the patient and make mistakes out of habit.
"None of those reasons makes negligence acceptable. Even if the error was a genuine mistake, it does not excuse their actions. It does not let them off the hook from being sued in a medical malpractice case," Mellino said.