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

Anesthesia errors and brain injuries

A study of 9,500 complaints filed against anesthesiologists found that most injuries experienced by patients were preventable. Though no fault was found on the part of the anesthesiologist in close to half of the claims, many of the injuries were blamed upon the specialist as "not following directions or not being vigilant."

Many of the injuries involved burns coming about due to misuse of forced-air warming units or misplaced catheters. Perhaps even more seriously, close to a third of the complaints involved individuals suffering brain damage as a result of the administration of the anesthesia. Many of these types of injuries could have been avoided by simply checking to see if the equipment was operating properly.

Seeing how often anesthesia is used at hospitals, it would seem essential that the equipment used would be checked out to make sure the anesthesia could be administered safely. The failure to do so likely demonstrates a problem with the internal procedures that are implemented by hospitals. Yet the failure to check up on the equipment does occur, and the consequences can often be severe.

For medical malpractice attorneys, there are probably no sadder cases than those involving brain damage to a patient. Claims regarding anesthesia mistakes are most often resolved at around $225,000. The highest claim in the study mentioned above was resolved for $9 million. The size of the claims is quite understandable when one looks at the types of injuries that result.

Brain damage from the use of anesthesia can result in a lifetime disability or even death, and the resulting injuries usually will require round the clock care. Such brain damage also can leave the patient bedridden and never again able to work or participate in the daily routines of life.

Source: Anesthesiology News, "Preventable Injuries Frequent in Anesthesia," by Alison McCook, Jan. 2013

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