Medical Malpractice: Anesthesia Errors by Doctors and Hospitals

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Even in today’s modern world, the administration of anesthesia can be risky. Complications can arise from too much, too little or the wrong type of anesthesia. The three main kinds of anesthesia are general, regional and local. Complications from anesthesia include vomiting, damage to the larynx, serious allergic reactions, brain damage, heart attack, anesthesia awareness, death and more. Fortunately, it’s the minor complications that are common and not the more serious ones. For example, the chance of anesthesia awareness is .02 percent. The most common types of anesthesia errors include:

Administering the wrong dosage
Improper intubation
Failure to monitor patient vital signs and delivery of oxygen
Failure to recognize complications as it develops
Failure to give patient proper instructions with regard to food and beverage prior to surgery
Accidently turning off the pulse oximeter alarm, which measures oxygen level
The main cause of any medical malpractice case comes down to medical negligence on behalf of the health care professional. The health care provider must fail to exercise the degree of care and skill of other professionals in that same specialty. To prove that an anesthesiologist was negligent, your attorney will hire an expert medical witness. This witness will take into account pre-surgical risk factors and the anesthesiologist’s operative note to determine what went wrong during surgery.

So, who’s liable for anesthesia errors? Is it the anesthesiologist, the hospital or both. If the anesthesiologist is employed by the facility, the hospital is liable. This is known as vicarious liability. The hospital is responsible for negligence committed by any of its employees. If the health care professional is an independent contractor, the hospital would be responsible for negligent hiring or negligent in maintaining or repairs its equipment. Outside of these examples, the anesthesiologist would be responsible and can be sued directly. While the hospital is generally not legally liable for non-employed physician errors from those who participated in one of its operations at its facility, determining whether or not the anesthesiology is an employee or independent contractor is tricky business. It’s a complex legal issue that requires a detailed view of the employment contract between physician and hospital. Other legal issues that are given attention include how much control the employer had over doctors’ performance if they claim to be an independent contractor. The rule of thumb is the more control the more likely the court will determine that the doctor was actually an employee of the hospital. If it is determined that the anesthesiologist acted independently of the facility, the medical professional will be named as a defendant in a lawsuit.

Proving medical negligence in these types of cases is inherently technical and difficult work. As a matter of fact, juries tend to favor physicians in medical malpractice trials. The bottom line is that anesthesia medical malpractice claims are highly complex. Those considering filing a medical malpractice lawsuit should contact an experienced and qualified Medical Malpractice Maryland attorney and not just an experienced personal injury attorney. It’s best to choose an attorney whose regular caseload includes a good amount of medical malpractice cases.

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Have you or a loved one been injured due to negligence? We want to help. Don’t hesitate to contact us if you believe you have a case; time is an important factor. Interested in learning more? Get in touch with us so we can better evaluate and serve your needs in getting the justice your loved one deserves. You may very well be entitled to compensation.


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