In the previous blog, we discussed what factors contribute to patient injury while using anesthesia, including technical performance of the anesthesiologist and patient factors including existing conditions or patient anatomy. When complications arise due to these factors, it may cause an anesthesia malpractice case to be filed, but what were the reasons claimed by patients for filing the suit? Improper performance, tooth damage, and improper management of the patient are the most common claims. To prepare a defense for a malpractice case, it may require assistance from a medical expert who has in-depth experience in the anesthesiology field. At APEXpert Witness, we have professional witnesses that have an expertise in anesthesiology and can offer assistance to your case.

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Improper Performance

This was the most common factor in contributing to patient injury, and is also the reason most malpractice cases are filed. Performance errors can include

  • Injecting anesthetic drugs incorrectly close to the spinal cord nerves
  • Improperly intubating the respiratory tract
  • Injecting anesthesia into a peripheral nerve which connects the brain and spinal cord.
  • Injecting anesthesia into a sympathetic nerve which activates the “fight or flight” response.

While these are reasons a claim is filed, many of these issues are known by the patient to be risks of the procedure, not due to negligence.

Medical ExpertTooth Damage

Both intubation and extubation can cause damage to the patient’s teeth, crowns, implants, or bridges. When damage is caused, it is often due to difficult conditions as a result of the patient’s weight or condition of their teeth. Using a laryngoscope, jaw clamping device or bike blocks, and clearing the oropharyngeal airway can cause damage to the teeth. Before surgery takes place, an examination should be done in order to determine the condition of the patient’s teeth. It is often difficult to defend this in a trial unless proper documentation was filed referencing a difficult intubation or the condition of the teeth.

Improper Management

While a patient is under anesthesia, it is necessary to actively monitor the patient’s vital signs, including heart rate, breathing rate, and blood pressure. When monitoring these numbers, the anesthesiologist will determine when to administer additional anesthetics and make changes when there are abnormal vitals signs. A delayed response to abnormal vitals signs, bleeding, respiratory, or cardiac arrest can lead to further complications.

Other Factors

The patient being in an incorrect position, and improper choice of anesthetic are other factors that can cause patient harm leading to a malpractice case. There are several possible positions for a patient depending on the surgery being performed, including supine, lithotomy, lateral, and prone; each have their own potential complications.

It is clear that the anesthesiology field is complex and many potential complications can arise. When a medical malpractice suit is filed, it is essential that the details of the case are reviewed by a medical expert with advanced experience and knowledge. The professional expert witnesses at APEXpert Witness are trustworthy and reliable. If you are preparing for a malpractice case, contact a medical expert for guidance and assistance.