Although doctors and surgeons are commonly implicated in medical malpractices cases most often, other professionals who attend to the patient are just as likely to make mistakes that lead to serious injuries. In particular, anesthesiologists have been known to commit errors that resulted in brain damage, blindness, and even death. Here are three reasons you may have a case against the anesthesiologist who handled your sedation.
The Anesthesiologist Failed to Consult Your Medical History
A mistake that some anesthesiologists make is failing to consult the patient's medical history or fully appreciate the information contained in the patients' charts. When an anesthesiologist doesn't take care to obtain all the necessary or relevant information regarding a patient's health and risk factors, this can cause problems before, during, and after the procedure.
For example, one woman was allergic to the kind of anesthesia that was used during her nose surgery, but both the doctor and the anesthesiologist failed to adequately investigate her medical history. As a result, she experienced an allergic reaction and lost some of her vision as a consequence. The court awarded her $1 million in compensation for the error.
It is an anesthesiologist's responsibility to ask patients relevant questions about anything that could affect how they perform while under anesthesia as well as read their medical files for guidance on how a patient may react to certain drugs. For instance, if a patient indicates he or she has experienced an allergic reaction to codeine, then the anesthesiologist may want to avoid using opioid-based anesthetics on the patient.
If you experience an adverse reaction to the anesthesia that should have been anticipated, obtain all your medical records and contact an attorney as soon as possible.
Failure to Inform of Risks
Another reason anesthesiologists can be held responsible for medical injures that occur while patients are sedated is if they fail to inform patients of the risks involved in the use of the anesthesia. This includes failing to provide patients with instructions on how to prepare for the procedure as well as not telling patients about the risks involved with not following those directions.
Anesthesia completely relaxes all the muscles in your body, including those in your airways and digestive tract, for example. Typically, you will be prohibited from eating or drinking within 6 hours of undergoing surgery to avoid having food and drink back up into your throat or lungs while you're under anesthesia. If the anesthesiologist fails to tell you not to consume food or liquids and why and you suffer an adverse event as a result, then you have cause to sue for any damages you sustain because of the medical professional's omission.
This type of case can be challenging to litigate, because sometimes it may come down to a "he said, she said" situation where the judge has to decide whose testimony is more credible. Therefore, it's essential that you obtain as much evidence as you can get supporting your side, including testimony from other people who may have been present, recordings, and even other victims.
Using Broken or Defective Equipment
A third problem that can give rise to a lawsuit is use of defective equipment. Anesthesiologists are responsible for making sure the equipment they use functions properly before using it on patients. If the anesthesiologist knew—or had reason to know—a piece of equipment wasn't up to par, then he or she can be held responsible for any problems that result from using it.
For instance, if the continuous-flow anesthetic machine fails to provide the correct mix of gasses to the patient and the person gets too much of one type of gas that causes brain damage, then the medical professional can be held liable for not checking the machine before and during the procedure.
You may need to have any tools looked at by a neutral third-party to determine exactly what the problem is as well as obtain repair and maintenance reports that detail what, if any, work was done on the machine. An attorney can help you obtain the necessary evidence to help you prove your case.
For help with a medical malpractice lawsuit against an anesthesiologist, contact a medical malpractice lawyer.