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Taking a closer look at anesthesiology-related injuries

Readers may not realize that anesthesiology errors can be just as serious as other types of medical mistakes. Anesthesiology medications, if administered in the wrong dosage, could cause serious side effects or reactions, possibly leading to cardiac arrest, stroke or other injuries.

However, even a patient without a known allergy to a certain type of anesthesiology drug might have an unexpected reaction to it. For that reason, an anesthesiologist is usually present during any surgical procedure, constantly monitoring how the patient is responding to the medication by reading vital signs and other data. 

Unfortunately, underestimating the potential danger associated with anesthesiology medications may also extend to patients, according to a recent study. Researchers examined over 600 anesthesia-related medical malpractice claims, categorizing the type of injuries or alleged negligence. They found that almost 80 percent of claims related to the technical performance of an anesthesiologist concerned patients who may not have fully understood the risks associated with certain drugs, even if explained to them.

Of course, there may be inherent risks associated with certain medical procedures or medications. A patient who makes an informed consent -- believing the potential benefit to outweigh the risks -- may fear that he or she may not be able to later bring a negligence claim if injured by a known risk.

However, an attorney that focuses on medical malpractice claims may have a more seasoned eye. An attorney knows that medical malpractice insurance companies may attempt to characterize a mistake as an unavoidable complication, rather than holding the doctor accountable. For that reason, a patient who suffers an anesthesiology-related injury should consult with a medical malpractice attorney, even if he or she was told that the injury was a complication of the procedure.

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

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