Hospital Negligence May Lead to Anesthesia Errors

Shay Morrigan | February 18th, 2013

anesthesia malpractice lawsuitAccording to the New York Times, in 1998, a Brooklyn jury awarded a family $44.9 million in a NY medical malpractice lawsuit. The young daughter had suffered brain damage after doctors allegedly gave her mother too much anesthesia during childbirth.

In 2010, the family of a 6-year-old boy filed an anesthesia malpractice lawsuit against Virginia Commonwealth University Pediatric Dental Clinic, accusing them of improperly administering anesthesia during a crown procedure. Doctors allegedly failed to monitor the boy’s respiratory condition, and he died shortly after the procedure.

Anesthesia errors may occur for a number of reasons, but oftentimes hospital negligence or medical malpractice may be involved. If you or a loved one was a victim of these types of errors and you believe they could have been avoided, you may benefit from a consultation with a New York medical malpractice lawyer.

What kind of procedures is anesthesia used for?

General anesthesia is used to make you insensitive to pain during a surgical procedure. Doctors administer medications either intravenously or via gas through a mask. The medication puts you into a deep sleep so you don’t experience any discomfort during surgery. Partial anesthesia may also be used to block sensation in a part of your body, but not put you to sleep. Examples include nerve blocks and epidurals.

The types of medications used as well as the doses may vary greatly depending on your medical history, age, weight, whether you have allergies, are taking other medications, and other factors.

What can go wrong?

Anesthesia is generally considered safe, but there are some risks. Some of the more common and minor side effects may include sore throat, dizziness, temporary confusion, and nausea. Other more serious risks include:

  • Severe allergic reaction
  • Tracheal damage
  • Birth defects
  • Blood pressure problems
  • Nerve damage
  • Lung infections
  • Stroke
  • Heart attack
  • Seizures
  • Brain damage
  • Coma
  • Paralysis
  • Death

When hospital negligence may be involved

Though anesthesiologists are highly trained and typically very efficient, sometimes because of fatigue, lack of staffing, malfunctioning equipment, or other problems, mistakes will happen. When they do, the healthcare professionals themselves, nursing assistants, or the organizations they work for may be held liable for anesthesiologist malpractice.

Errors that may occur related to the administering of anesthesia medications may include:

  • Dosage error—the anesthesiologist gives the patient too much or too little medication, resulting in health complications; this may also occur when the drugs themselves are improperly labeled
  • Failure to adjust medications for an allergic patient
  • Failure to recognize potential medication interactions
  • Delayed delivery of the medications—this may occur because of equipment malfunctions
  • Intubation errors
  • Failure to note complications
  • Failure to properly monitor the patient or leaving the patient unattended, even for a short period of time
  • Improper or negligent administration of oxygen during surgery
  • Communication errors before, during, or after the procedure
  • Prolonged sedation that goes on longer than intended
  • Equipment mistakes—turning off alarms or otherwise mishandling equipment
  • Improper training or certification of those administering the anesthesia

Considering an anesthesia malpractice lawsuit

Victims of anesthesia errors may benefit from filing a NY medical malpractice lawsuit. According to the National Practitioner Data Bank, in 2002, 467 medical malpractice payments were made to plaintiffs who were victims of anesthesia-related malpractice.

Mistakes happen sometimes, and no one is at fault, but if your injury could have been avoided given current medical knowledge and standards, those responsible can be held liable. A successful lawsuit can result in a substantial settlement or jury award that can help pay for past and future medical expenses, loss of income, disability, and pain and suffering.

When a New York medical malpractice lawyer can help

Working with a New York medical malpractice lawyer at The Sanders Firm, you can present the strongest case possible in court. Our experienced professionals will work to uncover all evidence possible to support your claim, and will charge you nothing unless we win your case. Call today for a free consultation: 1-800-Fair-Play ( 800-324-7752)


  1. Incidence of anesthesia-related medication errors over a 15-year period in a university hospital. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18536329

  2. Feds Shouldn’t Meddle With Medical Malpractice. http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-03-11/feds-shouldn-t-meddle-with-medical-malpractice.html