Next to the surgeon, one could argue that the most important medical professional in the operating room is the anesthesiologist. While Kentucky residents might not realize it, this doctor administers very potent, and potentially dangerous, drugs to keep a patient sedated and comfortable during surgery.
He or she is also responsible to some degree for making sure the patient can breathe properly and otherwise stays healthy during the operation insofar as possible.
While patients are therefore putting a great deal of trust in their anesthesiologist, mistake unfortunately can and do happen, even when the doctor is experienced and knowledgeable. Anesthesia errors can be very serious affairs and, in the worst cases, can end in the patient’s untimely death.
According to recent statistics, most anesthesia errors, about 1 in 5, happen when the anesthesiologist damages a person’s teeth while inserting or removing a breathing tube for surgery. However, setting those types of injuries aside, about 25 percent of all claims against anesthesiologists involve either the death or the near-death of a patient.
Not every problem with anesthesia is a medical malpractice case, however, as using such potent drugs carries risks with it. As long as the patient was well aware of all the risk and the anesthesiologist followed what doctors call the “standard of care” when administering the anesthesia, a tragically bad result might just be that, a sad tragedy that is no one’s fault.
On the other hand, an anesthesiologist is paid to do hard and critical jobs efficiently and well. Administering the wrong drug, improperly inserting a breathing tube, giving the wrong dose or medicine or simply not being aware of an obvious risk to a patient’s taking a particular drug or drug combination can be grounds for malpractice.
Kentuckians who feel they have been the victims of an anesthesia error or have a lost a loved one on that account should carefully weigh their legal options, including the option to pursue compensation from the negligent doctor and his or her employer.