Anesthesia is a medication given to patients which numbs pain during surgery or other less invasive medical procedures. It is given either locally to numb a specific area, often while the patient remains awake for the procedure, or it is administered generally to ensure a patient remains unconscious. While many may assume anesthetics are administered only in the case of major operations, they can be administered in less invasive procedures such as outpatient procedures or dental sedation. While anesthetics are often administered by an anesthesiologist, they can also be administered and monitored by other members of an anesthetic team, including registered anesthetic nurses, residents, physician assistants, preoperative and post-operative nurses, respiratory therapists, and technicians. Certainly, with the high level of medical expertise required as well as the number of professionals working together to ensure proper anesthetics are administered, skill and proper communication are expected.
Many symptoms of anesthetics, such as numbness, are temporary and wear off. Unfortunately, the negligent administration of anesthesia can result in life-threatening injuries or death. Patients in Iowa who have been injured or lost a loved one because of anesthesia negligence should seek the counsel of an experienced medical malpractice attorney immediately.
Iowa Anesthesia Accident Attorney
If you or a loved one has experienced death or a serious injury due to an anesthesiology error or anesthesia malpractice, you may be entitled to compensation such as medical bills, rehabilitation and more. To have an experienced medical malpractice lawyer who can protect your rights, contact McCarthy & Hamrock, P.C.. Our attorneys have over 37 years of experience handling anesthesia accident cases and can help you achieve a substantial financial recovery.
Call (515) 279-9700 to secure a free consultation with McCarthy & Hamrock, P.C. today. We accept cases in the city of Des Moines or the surrounding areas of West Des Moines, Windsor Heights, Waukee, Urbandale, Pleasant Hill, Norwalk, Johnston, Grimes, Clive, Carlisle, Bondurant, Ankeny, or Altoona.
- Types Of Anesthetic Injuries
- Preoperative Medical Screening
- Endotracheal Intubation
- Anesthetics During Surgery
- Post-Operative Anesthetic Care
- Iowa Malpractice Standards for Anesthesia Services
- Additional Resources
Types Of Anesthetic Injuries
The American Society of Anesthesiologists reports that 28 million patients in the United States receive anesthesia each year. While medical and technological advancements have helped reduce the risk of anesthetic injuries from 1 in 10,000 to 1 in 250,000 over the past decade, complications still arise.
Preoperative Medical Screening
Medical providers may be liable for medical malpractice if they fail to conduct a proper preoperative medical screening. After patients present to the hospital for surgeries, they typically meet with the anesthesiologist multiple times before surgery. During these check-ins, the anesthesiologist must continue to properly monitor the patient’s vital signs to ensure there are no changes prior to surgery. They must also conduct an extremely thorough review of a patient’s records, confirming that they have the correct information regarding a patient’s medications, allergic reactions, drug intolerances, and even family history. While hair color may not be on a patient’s medical profile, some studies, as reported by the University of California Irvine, even suggest that redheads require 20 percent more anesthetics to be sedated than the general population. Without these vital check-ins, serious injuries can result.
A large majority of major surgeries will require patients to be intubated. The most profound and serious complication of endotracheal intubation can occur when an anesthesiologist or their staff inserts the intubation tube into the esophagus rather than the trachea. When this happens, a patient is without oxygen and can suffer severe brain damage. Other medical malpractice claims in this vein have included damage to a patient’s teeth, tongue, palate, or jaw during intubation. Similarly, severe injury can occur when the endotracheal tube is improperly removed, resulting in a loss of oxygen or physical damage to the esophagus and mouth.
Anesthetics During Surgery
An anesthesiologist’s job is not done after the anesthetics are administered. Anesthesiologists play an ongoing, vital role during surgery. They ensure that a patient is properly strapped onto an operating table and that all monitoring equipment is in working order. Anesthesiologists are responsible for monitoring any adverse reactions during surgery, heart rate, blood pressure, oxygen levels, etc. Anesthesiologists must also monitor a patient’s stomach contents during surgery, which can otherwise result in the deadly aspiration of stomach contents into a patient’s lungs.
Post-Operative Anesthetic Care
Following surgery, anesthesiologists must then ensure that a patient’s anesthetics wear off in an appropriate time frame. Medical professionals must also ensure that the patient is properly transported from the operating room to recovery and that the move is not a shock to their system. Lastly, while many patients will require ongoing medication following general surgery, anesthesiologists must develop a plan to ensure patients receive proper dosages of medication to avoid any complications which could occur as a patient emerges from unconsciousness.
Iowa Malpractice Standards for Anesthesia Services
Rules 481-51.28 of the Iowa Administrative Code further discuss the policies and services governing anesthetic services. Under these rules, anesthetics must be administered under the direction of a qualified doctor. Furthermore, the doctor must conduct a proper pre-anesthesia evaluation, ensure that all essential anesthetic monitoring equipment is functional and safe, minimize any electrical hazards which could result, and continue to ensure the ongoing control and care of a patient’s anesthetic services. Where an anesthesiologist fails to adhere to these rules, patients may have available medical malpractice claims.
For a claimant to succeed on a medical malpractice claim in Iowa, they must show by a preponderance of the evidence that an anesthesiologist (or member of their team) failed to exercise the required degree of skill, care, and learning which would have been exercised by professionals in similar circumstances, and these actions or inactions caused the patient’s injuries and damages.
American Society of Anesthesiologists – Follow the link provided to access the official website for the American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) to view information on different types of anesthesia.
National Library of Medicine: Anesthetic Mishaps – Access the official website for the National Library of Medicine to view a study/article on anesthetic mishaps.
West Des Moines Anesthesia Accident Attorney | Polk County, Iowa
If you have suffered injuries due to an anesthesia accident, reach out to our knowledgeable medical malpractice attorneys at McCarthy & Hamrock, P.C.. We have presented many cases of anesthesiology malpractice to juries, helping families secure optimal compensation. Allow us to do the same for you and seek justice on your behalf.
McCarthy & Hamrock, P.C. is based in the West Des Moines area, but we accept clients throughout Polk County and Dallas County including Ankeny, Altoona, Polk City, Johnston, Pleasant Hill, Windsor Heights, Van Meter, Minburn, Waukee, Redfield, Adel, Dallas Center, and Perry. To schedule your first consultation, call (515) 279-9700 today.