Anesthesia is a critical part of surgery and other procedures. However, there are risks, and a patient can suffer severe brain damage when an error is made.
Most of the risks associated with anesthesia are minor and temporary— for instance, nausea, vomiting, chills, confusion, or a sore throat. In rare cases, however, catastrophic anesthesia errors can happen when medical professionals fail to monitor patients closely. The brain needs constant blood flow for oxygen to keep cells alive. The anesthesiologist is responsible for monitoring a patient’s brain and ensuring it receives the oxygen it needs during surgery. When blood flow is interrupted, the cells can be starved of oxygen which can quickly cause a stroke, traumatic brain injury, or death.
Brain damage can occur when:
Blood flow can slow during anesthesia, leaving the brain without enough oxygen. Even seconds of low or no oxygen can cause irreparable damage and loss of important brain functions.
Complications, such as allergic reactions or dangerous drug interactions, can occur if the wrong type of anesthesia is used. This can happen when a patient’s file is ignored or not checked for drug allergies or current medications.
When a patient aspirates (vomits) during surgery, the contents can enter the respiratory system. If the anesthesiologist is not properly monitoring the situation, it can cause low oxygen levels resulting in brain damage.
For some surgeries, patients require intubation (a breathing tube) because the anesthesia drug they need paralyzes the muscles. Breathing tubes must be placed with great care, or the brain can be deprived of oxygen.
Patients can stop breathing hours after surgery when given too much of an anesthesia drug. Therefore, close monitoring is critical.
When you or a loved one suffers brain damage as a result of an anesthesiologist’s preventable mistake, you have the right to take legal action. With the help of a Las Vegas brain injury lawyer, victims can recover compensation for the following:
Current and future bills for any medical care needed after the incident occured, including hospitalization, surgical procedures, physical and occupational therapy, prescription medications, medical equipment, in-home care, etc.
A severe brain injury may force you into a different line of work or make you unable to work again. However, compensation can be recovered for both past and future loss of income, as well as diminished earning capacity. This is for the difference in income that can be made now compared to before the brain damage.
Compensation for the physical pain and emotional distress the anesthesiologist’s error has caused you. Emotional distress can refer to mental anguish, depression, anxiety, insomnia, PTSD, and any other resulting psychological effects.
Brain damage can be permanently debilitating, and you may be unable to enjoy the same quality of life as before the injury.
The court may also award punitive damages as punishment if the anesthesiologist’s behavior was egregious or extremely reckless.