Anesthesia errors contribute to a large number of medical malpractice claims. Analyzing claims of this kind can be a complex and lengthy process involving comprehensive review of anesthesia and other medical records to determine merit and causation. If negligence is found, the injured party or his/her relatives are granted full and fair compensation for their losses. Typically, medical malpractice attorneys would conduct detailed investigations and analyses of the claim with the help of medical experts or reliable medical record review services.
Medical record review for attorneys would focus on identifying the type of anesthesia error that caused the adverse event. Often, anesthesia errors are drug related such as:
- Administering the wrong drug
- Wrong administration route
It is the responsibility of the anesthetist to administer the right drug in the right dose to a patient due for surgery. After that, he/she has to carefully monitor the vital signs of the patient during the 3 important phases – pre-operative, operative, and post-operative. If the anesthesiologist is careless, the errors they cause can be life threatening to the patient. Asphyxiation that can lead to brain damage is a common result of an anesthesia error. An anesthesiologist can administer an overdose as a result of misinterpretation or wrong understanding regarding the dosage, misusing the pump used to administer the medication or making an error in the dilution of the drug. Other anesthesia errors result from problems with esophageal intubation or ventilation. The most common risk factors for anesthesia errors are considered to be lack of familiarity with devices/equipment, insufficient experience, and carelessness/inattention and haste. Factors that contribute to anesthesia errors during surgery are many, and among them are the following:
- Not following proper procedures
- Insufficient training/experience
- Lack of familiarity with the anesthetic technique
- Lack of preparation
- Lack of exposure to and insufficient familiarity with surgical procedures
- Poor labeling of drugs and controls
- Complex medical cases and emergency medical cases
- Lack of supervision
- Equipment failure
A medical record review company analyzing the medical chart would be looking for results of anesthesia errors such as nerve damage, lack of oxygen, airway injury, lung infection, gastric aspiration and emotional distress. Only a thorough analysis of the medical records and reports can help determine whether negligence played a role in an anesthesia error.