Anesthesia is used for all types of medical procedures, from minor surgeries in which the patient remains awake to major operations in which the patient becomes unconscious from the drug’s effect.
We trust that the anesthesiologist will administer the correct dosage and follow proper procedures and protocols. But these medical professionals sometimes make anesthesia errors. They sometimes give the wrong amount of a drug (either too much or too little). They might administer anesthesia too late. They might give a patient the wrong drug. These are just a few examples of common mistakes that could be grounds for a medical malpractice claim.
Medication mistakes among the most common errors at hospitals
According to Science Direct, medication errors during anesthesia are unfortunately common and may result in serious health complications or death to a patient. Science Direct reports that medical errors are the third leading cause of death in the United States.
In hospitals, no other type of medical error is more common than a medication mistake, according to the Boston Globe. In the average hospital, at least one drug error is reported each day.
Hospital administrators should focus on correcting this serious problem. As Science Direct reports, medication errors are preventable. They are often traced back to human error or problems with a hospital’s system or protocols.
How do anesthesia errors happen?
The following are common medication mistakes made during surgery:
- Wrong medication administered
- Wrong dosage administered
- Drug administered via an incorrect route in the body
- Not giving anesthesia when needed for the procedure
- Failing to prevent interactions with other drugs
- Failing to monitor how the patient is reacting to the medication during surgery
A drug administration mistake can have a number of serious consequences. The drug may cause brain damage, a heart attack, stroke, paralysis or death. The doctor may not immediately realize the negative impact of the error. The drugged patient may be unable to describe a problem he or she is experiencing. Sadly, the mistake may not be caught until after the patient has either died or suffered an irreversible condition such as brain damage.
How hospitals can reduce medication errors
An anesthesiologist may administer up to a half a million different drugs during his or her career. It’s easy to imagine a mistake happening. But errors don’t have to happen and can be minimized if hospitals take action.
Science Direct notes that hospitals that incorporate drug delivery systems with new technology are minimizing their drug administration errors. New technology includes computerized medication-dispensing machines and bar codes on patient wristbands.
Doctors also should be more vigilant when preparing and administering anesthesia, and they should work in an environment with strong administrative support.
If you or a loved one experienced an anesthesia error, consult a medical malpractice attorney for a free and confidential consultation. You may have grounds to file a lawsuit. You will need a strong advocate at your side. Contact Cherundolo Law Firm, PLLC.