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Reaction to Anesthesia Leads to Brain Injury

A California jury recently awarded a man $2.25 million dollars in a medical malpractice lawsuit against his anesthesiologist and surgery center following a relatively routine surgical procedure in which he suffered an anoxic brain injury.  The Plaintiff, a diabetic with significant kidney disease, underwent a prosthetic lens implantation procedure on one of  his eyes.  During the course of the surgery, the Plaintiff had a reaction to the anesthesia after he had been sedated.  As a result, he went into a deeper state of sedation than was intended, an uncommon, but known complication.  Unfortunately, the anesthesiologist  had left the surgery room and otherwise failed to properly monitor the patient.  As a result, the Plaintiff stopped breathing for a period of time such that he suffered the brain injury.  Specifically, the Plaintiff suffered cerebral hypoxia or a hypoxic injury.   During the course of the trial, the Plaintiff's attorney was able to demonstrate that the surgery center was aware of the anesthesiologist's tendency to leave patients under anesthesia with nurses and other health care providers who were not trained to handle such patients.  This no doubt played a role in the jury's decision to find the anesthesiologist liable for the injuries that the plaintiff experienced. 

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. 

At STSW, our lawyers routinely handle operating room error cases in the Baltimore and Washington D.C. areas whether at the hands of a surgeon, anesthesiologist, nurse or other health care provide.  Our lawyers routinely find themselves involved in litigation against such area hospitals as Johns Hopkins, University of Maryland Medical System, 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.  Call our team at (410) 385-2225 if you or a loved one has been injured as a result of medical negligence / medical mistake / medical malpractice in the operating room.  Please also feel free to visit our website to set up your free consultation. 

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