Anesthesia is the medical procedure by which a person undergoing surgery is rendered insensitive to the pain of the procedure. Local or regional anesthesia involves the temporary removal of sensation from the area being operated upon. General anesthesia puts the patient into an unconscious state.
A Virginia boy died in 2010 from complications of anesthesia during a dental procedure. The removal of the anesthesia equipment triggered an irregular heartbeat that led to his death.
While death from anesthesia is quite rare, it is not unheard of. Dangerous complications from anesthesia can include heart attack, stroke or death. Some dangerous anesthesia complications will occur even without error by the doctor in charge, the anesthesiologist. However, others may be the result of the anesthesiologist’s failure to maintain the standard of care that other medical professionals would have provided.
The improper insertion or removal of the tubing, which delivers the anesthetic medicine to the patient, can cause damage to the lips, gums, teeth or even the vocal cords. Patients with pre-existing heart or lung disease may be at higher risk for complications as well.
Malignant hyperthermia is a potentially fatal condition, which is hereditary, but triggered by certain anesthesia medicines. The standard of care requires that an anesthetist ask if you or any family members have a history of bad reactions to anesthesia. If he or she fails to ask this or asks but then gives the wrong medication, this is certainly below the standard of care and may be actionable medical malpractice.
If you have any questions about complications that have resulted from anesthesia or any other procedure, we will be happy to answer them. With decades of experience and expertise in both the legal and medical issues, Dr. Michael Wilson, M.D., J.D. is here to help.
Dr. Michael M. Wilson is an attorney and a physician who earned his undergraduate degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and his legal and medical degrees from Georgetown University. He has focused in the area of medical malpractice for more than three decades and secured more than $100 million in settlements and verdicts on behalf of clients throughout the country. He is admitted to practice in the District of Columbia and New York as well as the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia and the U.S. Supreme Court. He is listed in America’s Top 100 High Stakes Litigators.