Anesthesia Malpractice in Hawaii
Whether you went and had your wisdom teeth pulled, or underwent major surgery, you had a form of anesthesia. The primary purpose of anesthesia is to make sure you don’t feel any pain or discomfort during medical procedures. It also serves to help you stay still because moving during surgery could be dangerous.
The doctor in charge of your anesthesia during surgery is an anesthesiologist. They’re in charge of deciding which medications to give you and how much, monitoring you during surgery, and monitoring your postoperative recovery. They play a central role in making sure everything goes smoothly.
When an anesthesiologist is careless during your procedure, you could suffer the consequences. Anesthesia errors can lead to serious injuries and long-term disabilities.
If you believe that you have been harmed by the malpractice of an anesthesiologist, you should talk with an experienced Maui medical malpractice attorney about your experience. Matt Menzer from Menzer Law Firm is an experienced malpractice lawyer and he will review your records and advise you on pursuing a medical tort claim in Hawaii.
Types of Anesthesia
There are several types of anesthesia:
- General anesthesia is when you’re completely unconscious during major surgeries.
- IV/monitored sedation is when you’re sedated but not fully unconscious during most minimally invasive procedures.
- Regional anesthesia is when a specific portion of your body is numbed, but you’re fully conscious, like during a C-section.
- Local anesthesia is when a small area of your body is numbed for a minor procedure, such as getting stitches.
Risks Associated with Anesthesia
Anesthesia, like all medicine, comes with known risks and complications. A trained anesthesiologist needs to know your full medical history to choose the right medications. Some might be safer than others, depending on your condition, overall health, and other medications you have been taking.
During the procedure, you must be monitored closely. You could react poorly to the medication, the medication could wear off sooner than expected, or your oxygen levels could fall dangerously low.
The riskiest forms of anesthesia are general and IV/monitored sedation. In both circumstances, the anesthesiologist must calculate the doses correctly and monitor your breathing and other vital signs closely.
Another risk is a postoperative cognitive dysfunction, which occurs when you don’t recover well from the anesthesia. This can lead to long-term cognitive and memory issues.
Common Forms of Anesthesia Malpractice
We have handled anesthesia malpractice cases involving all types of errors, including:
An anesthesiologist might not obtain or thoroughly review a patient’s history to determine the appropriate type and amount of medication. A potential allergy or medication interaction could make the anesthesia life-threatening. They might fail to tell a patient-important pre-surgery steps, like refraining from eating or drinking. They also might fail to communicate all of the risks associated with the procedure and anesthesia to properly obtain the patient’s informed consent.
An anesthesiologist must calculate how much medication to give a patient based on their age, weight, and other factors. Too little medication could lead a patient to become conscious during surgery and experience pain. Too much medication can lead to overdose, coma, organ damage, and postoperative cognitive dysfunction.
One of the most significant mistakes an anesthesiologist can make is a medication error that lets a patient become conscious during the surgery but unable to move or speak. The patient can experience pain and severe emotional distress without any way of telling doctors or nurses.
Intubation is the process of putting a tube down the patient’s windpipe to ensure the patient receives plenty of oxygen during the procedure. Extubation is when the tube is removed. Errors during these processes could cause injury to the mouth, esophagus, trachea, or vocal cords.
Another error is not monitoring the patient’s oxygen levels. Several minutes of too little or no oxygen can cause brain damage with long-term deficits.
Under general anesthesia, patients can’t breathe or swallow for themselves. Aspiration happens when food, liquid, or vomit get into the patient’s trachea and lungs. It blocks a person’s airways and can the loss of the ability to breathe, pneumonia, and other serious injuries.
A rare risk associated with regional or local anesthesia is nerve damage. Also, improperly used or placed tourniquets can cause nerve damage during IV/monitored sedation and general anesthesia.
Anesthesiologists are responsible for monitoring a patient’s recovery from the anesthesia. Patients shouldn’t be discharged until they’re fully conscious, aware, and stable. Inadequate monitoring or discharging a patient too early means a doctor may not be aware of a patient’s worsening condition and needs further treatment.
Why Do Anesthesia Mistakes Happen?
Negligence associated with anesthesia happens for many reasons. Anesthesiologists that handle emergencies might be busy, rushing from one patient to another. In their hurry, they might not take the amount of time and care they should when learning each patient’s condition, history, risk factors, and allergies.
Miscommunication between medical professionals before and during is another issue. It could be a verbal miscommunication, forgetting to put something in a chart, or terrible handwriting.
Another issue is simple carelessness. Anesthesiologists who fail to pay close attention to each patient’s needs and vital signs during surgery might fail to notice when something starts to go wrong.
What Should You Do About Anesthesia Malpractice?
If you or a loved one were the victims of anesthesia negligence, talk with a knowledgable and experienced Hawaii medical malpractice attorney as soon as you can. Hawaii’s medical tort law requires you to take certain steps for a medical malpractice claim. You can’t immediately file a lawsuit.
You can speak with Matt Menzer about filing a complaint with the Medical Inquiry and Conciliation Panel. This is an out-of-court process during which you can exchange information with the doctor and their employer and potentially reach a settlement agreement. If you don’t resolve your claim through the panel, mediation, or arbitration, then you can file a medical malpractice lawsuit.
Talk with Menzer Law Firm Today
To learn more about when you have a medical negligence claim based on an anesthesia mistake, call Menzer Law Firm at (808) 400-3726 or use our online form. Our office is located in Wailuku, Maui, though we represent medical malpractice victims on all the neighboring Islands.