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Do patients fully understand the risks of anesthesia medication?

According to a recent study of anesthesia-related medical malpractice claims, over three-quarters may arise from patients misunderstanding the risks prior to their procedures.

As an attorney knows, patient communication is part of a doctor’s duty of care to his or her patients. In order to make an informed consent, a patient must be advised of the risks associated with a procedure. That duty also includes informing patients of the risks associated with anesthesia medications.

There are many components to a successful medical procedure. Although surgical patients may be more nervous about the actual operation, the fact remains that anesthesia medications are powerful drugs that can cause powerful reactions. For that reason, they must be administered correctly.

A patient’s intake should screen for potential allergies to anesthesia medications. In addition, a patient’s response to anesthesia must be closely monitored during the procedure to watch for potential side effects or adverse reactions. Without proper monitoring, an anesthesia medication could cause injuries such as stroke, brain damage, cardiac arrest or even wrongful death. Similarly, medical mistakes in the dosage or type of anesthesia could also lead to serious anesthesia-related injuries.

Without the help of an experienced medical malpractice attorney, proving anesthesia malpractice may be a challenge for a patient. An attorney can review the medical records looking for common errors, such as defective equipment, errors in dosage or medication type, failing to educate a patient about dietary restrictions before the procedure, incorrectly incubating a patient, or failing to watch vital signs. An attorney can also work with experts to properly interpret evidence and present it in a way that a jury in an anesthesia malpractice case may find compelling. 

Source: Medical Xpress, “Study shows anesthesia-related deaths decline; improvement needed to reduce injuries,” Oct. 15, 2014

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