Anesthesia Errors – Allergic Reactions
Anesthesia is a treatment that uses medications to prevent a patient from feeling pain during a medical procedure, such as surgery or diagnostic testing. There are several ways anesthesia is used to prevent pain, including general, regional, and local anesthesia. General anesthesia puts people to sleep during procedures, while regional and local anesthesia prevents pain while the patient is awake.
The risks associated with anesthesia have decreased in the past several decades, based on a variety of safety improvements such as improved monitoring techniques and widespread adoption of practice guidelines across the medical profession. However, the use of anesthesiology is still commonly regarded as a high-risk activity, and it can result in life-altering injuries. According to the American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA), complications as the result of anesthesia may include blindness, infection, damage to veins or arteries, damage to a patient's mouth, teeth, or vocal cords, lung, heart or blood pressure complications, seizure or stroke, allergic reactions, nerve damage, awareness of the operation, or even death.
Having an allergic reaction during the administration of anesthesia can happen, but it's not very common. It's estimated that 1 out of every 10,000 who receive anesthesia have an allergic reaction. This may be due to any number of drugs, not only those required to provide anesthesia. In addition to allergic reactions, non-allergic reactions, and medication side effects can cause symptoms that are easily mistaken for those of an allergic reaction. But even if you do have an allergic reaction to anesthesia, long-term problems are rare because anesthesiologists are trained to quickly recognize signs of any kind of reaction. While most people do not have an allergic reaction to anesthesia, it can cause several problems for those who do. The medical professional treating you should review your complete medical history and past allergic reactions before ordering or administering any anesthesia, as failing to do so may lead to several health problems. DeFrancisco & Falgiatano are experienced medical malpractice lawyers who can determine if you were treated appropriately.
Anesthesia can contain certain chemicals that patients are allergic to, which can cause them to go into anaphylactic shock. In such cases, the anesthesiologist should find either another anesthetic or an alternative means of putting you under before the surgery. If they fail to do this or fail to speak with you on the day of the surgery to address any additional medical concerns you may have, they may be liable for anesthesia errors.
It is important to note that not all types of anesthesia are the same. General anesthesia, which leaves the patient unconscious for a certain period, is most likely to cause an allergic reaction. Some allergic reactions are mild; others are not. The milder allergic reactions to anesthesia include:
- Muscle twitches
- Swelling in the face area
- Mild shortness of breath
- Slow or abnormal heart rate
- Mild reduction in blood pressure
- Nausea and vomiting
However, even a "mild" reaction such as vomiting can be deadly when you're laid out on the operating table. A patient who vomits while under general anesthesia may aspirate (breathe) in the vomit and suffocate. A less common reaction is anaphylaxis, which is a life-threatening reaction to anesthesia. Symptoms of this more severe type of allergic reaction include:
- Respiratory failure
- Cardiac arrest
- Shock/severely low blood pressure
- Closing of airways, which causes severe shortness of breath (SOB)
- Unusually slow or fast heart rate, or abnormal heartbeat
You can be your own best advocate. Prior to any surgical or medical procedure that will require anesthesia, provide your doctors and nurses, and anyone who treats you, with as much information as possible concerning any past medication issues you've had.
If you or a loved one has been the victim of an anesthesia error, you may feel overwhelmed and uncertain about what to do next. You may be wondering if you have a medical malpractice claim. The dedicated medical malpractice attorneys of DeFrancisco & Falgiatano may be able to assist you with what you need to know about anesthesia errors and medical malpractice in New York. We represent patients and their families who have suffered harm due to medical malpractice in Syracuse, Rochester, and throughout Upstate New York, including in areas such as Utica, Canandaigua, Binghamton, Cooperstown, Lyons, Elmira, Wampsville, Auburn, Herkimer, Oneida, Oswego, Ithaca, Watertown, and Lowville. Please call us at 833-200-2000 or contact us via our online form.
We are experienced medical malpractice lawyers, so call today for a free consultation.