Anesthesia is one of the great medical discoveries in the world. It makes long, painful surgeries possible, saving lives every day. With around 40 million anesthesia procedures performed yearly, it's clear how important anesthesia is to the medical field.
There are serious risks associated with anesthesia, though. As many as 251,000 people die in the USA each year because of medical errors, and anesthesia errors are part of that number. As a patient, that may worry you, but understanding the risks can help you relax if you're going into surgery.
The first cause of errors comes down to medication dosages being incorrect. When dosages aren't correct, the patient may overdose, stop breathing or suffer other horrible side effects. The most common reasons for medication errors like these come down to inexperience, haste or carelessness and a lack of familiarity with medical devices.
Documentation errors are another cause for concern. While most documentation errors cause billing errors, it's also possible that anesthesia mistakes could result. For example, if an anesthesiologist fills out the paperwork for anesthesia used during the procedure before the procedure is over, he or she may forget to administer an important medication.
Finally, not understanding how to use an IV properly can cause harm to patients. There needs to be access to the veins. If the vein is broken, fluid overload can lead to high blood pressure, anxiety and even trouble breathing, which could put the patient's life at risk.
If any of these errors lead to an injury or death, you can file a claim against the hospital, anesthesiologist or doctor who injured you. As a patient, you have rights and negligence violates them.
Source: Infuse Safety, "5 Mistakes in Anesthesia and How to Avoid Them," accessed Aug. 23, 2017