Can I Sue an Anesthesiologist for Medical Malpractice During Surgery?
Surgery with anesthesia always poses some risks to the patient. Many patients choose to proceed with a surgery even after being informed of the risk that the surgery might not have the desired results, because the consequences of not having the surgery are equally dire. Injuries and deaths can happen even when the surgical team does everything right according to current medical standards and best practices. Thus, not every injury resulting from a surgical procedure can be claimed as medical malpractice. However, if you or a loved one have suffered a significant personal injury or wrongful death with substantial financial damages as the result of medical incompetence or negligence during a surgery with anesthesia, you may have grounds for a medical malpractice lawsuit.
Risk Factors for Surgery with Anesthesia
Certain health factors can increase the risks of anesthesia, including:
- Obesity can make it harder to determine the correct dosage of anesthetic to administer and to ensure that a patient receives enough oxygen.
- Age-related conditions such as cardiac disease, prior stroke, clogged arteries, and high blood pressure can increase the risk of complications during surgery.
- Obstructive sleep apnea and other conditions that affect breathing can cause a dangerous loss of oxygen during surgery, which could result in brain damage or death.
Prior to any surgery, your surgeon and anesthesiologist should conduct a careful assessment of your health to identify specific risks and ways to mitigate those risks. If the surgical team fails to account for all relevant health conditions when planning and performing the surgery, you could have a valid claim for compensation for damages incurred.
Possible Grounds for an Anesthesia Malpractice Lawsuit
Your surgical team should clearly explain the specifics risks of the surgery and anesthesia you are about to undergo. Failure to inform you of the consequences of a medical procedure can be grounds for a lawsuit, per Illinois medical malpractice law 735 ILCS 5/2-622(d).
Failure to identify a medical condition that makes surgery risky and to take appropriate precautions according to current clinical guidelines can also be grounds for a medical malpractice lawsuit. “Best practices” for a particular medical condition and treatment approach are commonly referred to as the “medical standard of care.”
Other surgical anesthesia errors that might support an anesthesiology malpractice lawsuit include misdiagnosis, choice of an inappropriate anesthesia method, incorrect dosage of anesthesia, and failure to respond quickly and appropriately to a crisis during the surgery.
By way of example, in one 2017 lawsuit, the wife of an 80-year-old man was awarded $10 million in a medical malpractice lawsuit. The plaintiff alleged that a certified registered nurse anesthetist (CRNA) failed to meet the medical standard of care before and during the man’s surgery. The specific errors alleged to have resulted in the man’s wrongful death included a failure to empty the patient’s stomach prior to surgery, resulting in stomach contents aspirating into his lungs during the operation, and failure to properly protect the patient’s airway.
Injuries That Can Result from Anesthesia Errors
Some of the injuries that can result from negligence or incompetence in anesthesia administration include:
- Brain damage
- Nerve damage resulting in limb numbness or loss of functionality
- Spinal cord injury resulting in paralysis
- Wrongful death
Consult an Orland Park Medical Malpractice Lawyer
If you or a loved one have suffered a serious injury or died due to negligent or incompetent administration of anesthesia during surgery or childbirth, an experienced Cook County medical malpractice attorney can help you file a claim for compensation. For a free evaluation of your case, call Schwartz Injury Law at 708-226-9000 for Cook County cases or 815-723-7300 in Joliet for Will County cases.