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Woman "felt unable to breath" from incorrect paralytic dosage

We, as patients, entrust doctors and surgeons with our lives when seeking medical treatment. They are highly-skilled in their profession and possess thousands of hours of experience in the medical field. Given this doctor-patient relationship, you would expect as few errors as possible on the operating table or in a hospital.

Unfortunately that is not always the case, and when medical staff members perform their practice in a negligent manner, they could be liable in a medical malpractice suit. One example of malpractice is a medication error or administering the wrong drug to a patient.

Just such an incident happened earlier this month in Minnesota. A woman, who was only lightly sedated and preparing to have spinal cord surgery, was given a paralytic that is only meant for patients in deep sedation. The paralytic was swapped out for general anesthesia after the surgical staff realized their mistake, but the woman told investigators that she "felt unable to breathe."

The state's Department of Health said the hospital failed to administer anesthesia in a "safe, organized manner" after concluding their investigation into the medication error. The woman was unharmed by the paralytic and it does not appear that she suffered any long-term or debilitating effects from the medical error. However, had the paralytic caused permanent hardship, the woman would have the grounds to file a lawsuit.

Though this story happened in Minnesota, medical negligence and medication errors occur all across the nation. Most of the time, these incidents are merely accidental - but that does not excuse them. Medical professionals must treat every patient with the utmost care and handle serious situations, such as spinal cord surgery and its subsequent anesthesia dosage, very carefully.

Source: Outpatient Surgery Magazine, "Patient Accidentally Dosed With Paralytic," Daniel Cook, Jan. 5, 2012

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