Caroselli, Beachler & Coleman, L.L.C.

Anesthesia given, man goes into shock, physician can't be found

Many emergency room errors in Pennsylvania hospitals occur during the administration of anesthesia. Such areas often result in brain injuries or death. Sadly, many such errors could have been prevented if simple precautionary procedures had been implemented or followed.

In a medical malpractice lawsuit filed against medical providers responsible for anesthetizing a patient, a physician was not immediately on hand when the anesthesia was given. The 20-year old patient, undergoing oral surgery, suffered an anaphylactic reaction to the anesthesia, but by the time the physician was alerted to the problem as was able to respond to the emergency the patient already suffered severe brain damage. The patient subsequently died a few days later.

A written policy on code responses may have prevented this tragedy from every occurring. Though the anaphylactic reaction was unexpected, not having a physician close by when the anesthesia was administered prevented measures being taken to restore the patient's ability to breathe.

It turned out that the on-call physician was in another surgery at the time that the reaction took place. The anesthesiology team also had difficulty locating the backup physician who did immediately respond when finally summoned. So simply being unable to locate a physician in a medical center at the time of an emergency resulted in a patient's death.

The reason why patients and family members retain legal counsel is in part to insure that safety measures are implemented in the future. Though it will already be too late to prevent the prior malpractice, future malpractice could be avoided.

A 20-year old patient should not die while undergoing oral surgery. Hopefully, the family will receive some compensation in the wrongful death action that is now pending.

Source: Outpatient Surgery, "Should Anesthesiology Group Have Reached Dying Patient Sooner?" by Leigh Page, Feb. 27, 2012

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