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Can I Earn Damages from Anesthetic Errors?


When most people think about going under the knife, they usually imagine the doctor holding the knife is the most important person in the room. Patients and family members ask about the surgeon’s qualifications and the team who will assist him or her, hoping for the most well-experienced physician they can find.

However, surgeons and nurses aren’t the only people who matter in the operating room. A largely ignored aspect of any surgical procedure is the type of anesthetic used to either knock the patient out completely (general anesthesia) or numb the specific region to be worked on (local anesthesia).

Anesthesiology is a complicated profession. Healthcare professionals specialize in this field to protect patients from dangerous levels of anesthetic during procedures. However, like doctors, anesthesiologists make mistakes which can lead to adverse side effects. If their mistakes were caused by negligence, they could even be considered medical malpractice.

Types of Anesthesiology Errors


Even before the patient enters the operating room, anesthesiologists have several responsibilities that, if ignored, could lead to a viable case for medical malpractice. These include:

  • Informing the patient of the risk of side effects, especially those caused by a failure to follow pre-operating guidelines (e.g., fasting)
  • Checking the patient’s medical history for complications with the planned anesthetic and method of administration

In addition, anesthesiologists play crucial roles in the operating room during procedures. Besides administering, maintaining, and monitoring the patient’s level of anesthetic, the anesthesiologist can also be responsible for other aspects of the patient’s condition, like placing the tubes that deliver anesthetic.

The less severe side effects are more common, and many people who have been anesthetized may have experienced a few of these at some time or another:

  • Post-procedural pain or soreness
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Temporary confusion
  • Sore throat
  • Respiratory difficulties

The more serious side effects caused by complications from anesthetic are a little more harrowing. Fortunately, the risk of developing severe side effects from anesthetic errors during surgery is low: some estimates put the risk of waking up during surgery at two in 1,000 patients. Other symptoms of possible anesthetic errors include:

  • Pneumonia
  • Brain damage
  • Blood clotting
  • Heart attack
  • Stroke
  • Becoming conscious during the surgery (Anesthesia awareness)
  • Death

Though many of the less severe side effects can be unavoidable, the more serious ones may have a causal relationship with negligence on the part of the anesthesiologist. When you’re harmed due to an error such as this, you may have a medical malpractice case on your hands.

What to Do after an Anesthetic Mistake


When you’re harmed during a surgery, your first priority should be your health. Whether you need to stay in the hospital to recover or can take time off to heal at home, prioritize your own well-being before attempting to file a malpractice claim.

After you start to feel better, think about reaching out to a local, experienced medical malpractice attorney. These cases are extremely complicated, and you’ll want someone well-versed in Indiana’s laws, requirements, and precedents to handle your specific case.

Keep in mind that medical malpractice cases fall flat unless you (and a professional willing to testify on your behalf) can prove the anesthesiologist’s negligence directly caused your injury and resulted in some kind of harm.

Help from Hensley Legal Group

There’s no doubt that medical malpractice cases are hard to win, whether your target is the anesthesiologist or the hospital itself. That’s why it’s difficult to try and win this on your own; you need expert witnesses, plenty of time to file paperwork, and the courage to face some of the most well-funded lawyers in the state.

But you don’t have to face this alone. Hensley Legal Group has offices across Indiana and attorneys experienced with medical malpractice cases. Call us or contact us online today, and you can start a conversation with one of our lawyers for free.