Anesthesia Malpractice

STSW’s Medical Malpractice / Wrongful Death team is led by veteran trial lawyers Andrew G. Slutkin and Jamison G. White. With over four decades of litigation experience, Mr. Slutkin and Mr. White have successfully handled several cases in the past in which a client experienced the unnecessary amputation of a limb due to a medical mistake. If you or a loved one has suffered the loss of a limb due to medical malpractice, call our team for a free consultation at 410-385-2225.

The use of anesthesia across America's operating rooms is common–place. The administration of anesthesia allows physicians to place a patient into an unconscious or semi–conscious state so that a surgical procedure can take place without exposing the patient to pain. As with most medical procedures, however, serious mistakes can occur during the administration of anesthesia. Because anesthesia is designed to "affect" the central nervous system (brain, spinal cord and nerves) during a surgery, when errors occur, the results can be devastating to the patient, including but not limited to: loss of motor function (walking, moving arms/legs); paralysis; nerve damage, loss of vision, brain damage, and even death. In today's highly specialized medical community, the administration of anesthesia is no longer only occurring in hospitals, but rather, routinely takes place in physician's offices, outpatient centers, dental offices or cosmetic surgery clinics, to name a few. This frequency increases the chances of potential errors. Some common types of anesthesia errors include: failure to monitor the condition/vital signs of a patient who has been placed under anesthetic, improper placement of breathing tubes that causes physical injury to throat or lungs; improper placement of breathing tubes that prevents an adequate flow of oxygen to the brain, resulting in brain damage; inadequate anesthetic levels that cause a patient to awaken during surgery and/or feel conscious pain; improper positioning of a patient under anesthetic that results in disabling nerve or muscle injuries; allergic reactions to anesthetic drugs; and the use of improperly functioning anesthetic equipment.

Generally speaking, most people don't experience problems with general anesthesia during surgical procedures.  Risk factors that can increase a patient's risk of developing a complication include, but are not limited to:  co-morbidities involving your heart, lungs or kidneys; medications that increase bleeding like aspirin or coumadin, heavy alcohol use, high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, smoking, sleep apnea, and of course, a prior history of adverse reaction to anesthesia.   Adverse reactions to anesthesia include temporary paralysis, stroke, infection of lungs, heart attacks and death.   Recent studies suggest that the incidence of complications stemming from the administration of anesthesia is roughly 1-2/1000. 

As a result of these complications, anesthesiologists must fully inform patients of the possible complications associated with anesthesia.  Patients, in turn, should inform the anesthesiologist of any drugs they are taking and fully inform him of your medical history including allergies, health conditions and history  with anesthesia.  Prior to surgery, you may be asked to stop taking medications such as warfarin (Coumadin), ibuprofen or aspirin or any other drugs that make it hard for your blood to clot if you start bleeding. 

Our Medical Malpractice/Wrongful Death team has handled a number of anesthesia error cases in the Baltimore and Washington D.C. areas. These cases are routinely brought against surgeons, anesthesiologists, nurses or other health care providers who are responsible for the administration and maintenance of anesthesia during a surgical procedure, and/or the monitoring of a patient for signs of distress while under the effects of anesthesia. In this context, our lawyers routinely find themselves involved in litigation against area hospitals such as: Johns Hopkins Hospital, University of Maryland Medical Center, Harbor Hospital, Bon Secours Hospital, St. Agnes Hospital, Northwest Hospital, Sinai Hospital, Anne Arundel Medical Center, Howard County General Hospital, Union Memorial Hospital and others.