Articles Posted in Anesthesia Injury

Recently, a jury awarded a 20-year-old woman $872,000 in a medical malpractice case for the severe burns she suffered on her face and neck during surgery. The woman was having a mole removed from her eyebrow and was anesthetized during the procedure. The plastic surgeon was found negligent when he failed to communicate to the anesthesia assistant that he was using a device that could cause an operating room fire when administered near oxygen. Due to this failure to communicate, the device ignited a fire that severely burned the patient. The jury also learned that the negligent doctor did not reveal the cause of the fire to the patient’s family. Read more about this successful medical malpractice case.

Researchers received $3.7 million to find ways to reduce medical error in various hospital and pharmacy departments. Researchers will try to develop safe ways in handling patient test results because receiving results are more difficult in larger hospital institutions. Also, the researchers will try and find safer ambulatory sedations. Another goal is to reduce medication error from high-risk medications.

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The family of a 35-year-old who died after getting a heart pacemaker was awarded a $4.6 million medical malpractice verdict against the three doctors who performed the surgery at the hospital. The jury found that the victim developed lung problems that should have delayed the surgery. Instead, the procedure was done as scheduled and he died 17 days later of respiratory failure. The medical malpractice award will go the man’s wife and 12-year-old daughter. The medical malpractice verdict was against the two anesthesiologists and the cardiologist. The cardiologist had already settled with the family earlier for an undisclosed amount. To read the full story, click here.

One of the greatest organizational problems facing hospitals today is the battle over medical records. Many patients find that it can take months or years to get a hold of their own medical records after treatment. Even worse, some families of victims of medical malpractice or wrongful death have waited for years to obtain their loved one’s medical records from hospitals. Often, lost or missing records are simply part of hospital error and not a deliberate attempt to delay, but on some occasions hospitals may frustrate a patient’s records request purposefully. Patients and victims’ families must be aware that statutes of limitation often require that medical malpractice lawsuits be filed within a certain period of time after the injury occurs or is discovered. This means that patients and victims’ families must decide to file a medical malpractice lawsuit and contact their medical malpractice attorney as soon as possible and begin the medical records request process.

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No one knew that the 18 year-old had a rare, genetic condition that cause a fatal reaction to the anesthesia when she decided to have plastic surgery and chose a surgeon to correct a congenital defect that left her with asymmetrical breasts and inverted nipples. Everything seemed very routine and nobody thought there would be risk involved. The condition that the family believes killed the 18 year-old is an extremely rare genetic disorder that causes a reaction to common types of anesthesia. The reaction is called malignant hyperthermia – it causes the patient’s temperature to spike to 110 degrees or higher. Salts precipitate out of the blood and organs collapse, leading to death.

More adequate care could have prevented this reaction because there is an antidote called Dantrolene that can reverse the effects of malignant hyperthermia. If administered in proper dosages in a timely fashion, the effects can be successfully reversed. However, according to the medical malpractice lawsuit attorney, the anesthesiologist administered only one dose when at least eight were required.

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Surgery poses many risks. One, flash fires, has recently been shown to be more common than previously thought. In one of the states with the most comprehensive collection of statistics, 28 fires a year in operating rooms has been the average over the last three years. Medical malpractice lawsuits have not been uncommon results of surgical fires. Fires in operating rooms have not gained as much attention as other surgical hazards, such as wrong-site surgery, but these fires have proven themselves dangerous by causing serious injuries and deaths. One of the most fatal surgical fires occurs during throat surgery. Common fire hazards in todays operating rooms include the use of 100% oxygen, which can increase the flammability of gauze and hair when leaked into the air; alcohol-based skin cleansers; and the increasing use of advanced surgical tools like lasers and electrocautery devices. One of the most commonly cited causes of surgical fires is poor communication between surgeons, nurses and anesthesiologists. Prevention policies have been on the rise as more oversight groups have recommended them.

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Unintended intraoperative awareness, also called anesthesia awareness, is a well-documented risk of surgery. A study published in the Anesthesia & Analgesia Journal concluded that about 0.13% of patients experience anesthesia awareness during surgery. One woman recently filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against her doctor for an experience that she claims was unintended intraoperative awareness. The woman said that she was paralyzed during an operation on her sinuses, but was conscious and able to feel pain. She also claims that the experience left her with posttraumatic stress disorder. Both sides in the trial concluded that the patient did display symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder, but claimed that what caused it was different. The anesthesiologist argued that the consciousness the woman recalled was not during the surgery itself, but that it was during the recovery period. While there is no dispute that anesthesia awareness occurs, the jury ruled that the patient in this case was not conscious until after the surgery had been performed. The woman stated that although she did not win her lawsuit, she will work to spread the word about anesthesia awareness and the technology that can be, but is not, regularly used to monitor brain activity to prevent the experience.

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A jury has recently awarded $1.8M against a hospital for medical malpractice when an anesthesiologist failed to treat symptoms of paralysis that arose after surgery. The anesthesiologist initially decided that these symptoms, which included progressive weakness in the patient’s arms and hands and involuntary movement of his right arm away from his body, did not warrant surgery. This failure to correctly diagnose central cord syndrome delayed the necessary surgery for 15 hours and led to personal injuries including paralysis. The man, who drove himself to the hospital for bladder surgery, now needs full-time, round the clock care for all his hygiene needs, as well as ongoing treatment for permanent kidney damage. Unfortunately, Michigan’s caps on non-economic damages in medical malpractice cases will limit the amount the man will be able to recover from the hospital to an amount that is less than what the jury believed was appropriate for this man’s pain and suffering.

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A transplant surgeon was recently charged with purposely advancing the death of a patient in order to recover his organs. A medical malpractice and wrongful death lawsuit was filed. The transplant community is extremely worried that this allegation could steer people away from offering their organs for donation. When people are deciding whether or not to donate their organs, one of the biggest fears and deterrents is that doctors will hasten their death. The transplant community has been working hard to reverse this mentality and this recent charge is a serious setback. There are about 97,000 people nationally are currently awaiting a transplant.

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The mother of a 26-year-old man has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the doctor and others she alleges prescribed overdoses of medication to speed up his death. The claim alleges that the doctor prescribed overdoses of morphine and Ativan and injected a topical antiseptic into the man’s stomach. As a result of the alleged medical malpractice, the man had suffered irreversible brain damage and was put on a respirator. When his mother gave approval to donate his organs, the California Transplant Donor Network sent a surgical team to handle the transplant. In California, however, it is illegal for transplant doctors to treat potential organ donors before they are declared dead. The doctor is charged with felony counts of dependent adult abuse, administering a harmful substance and unlawful prescription of a controlled substance.

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