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The preventability of anesthesia errors

Of 9,500 complaints filed against anesthesiologists, a study confirms that most were largely preventable. Many such injuries involved burns or administrative mistakes that came about after a catheter was misplaced.

Approximately a third of the complaints concerned individuals suffering from brain damage due to an anesthesia related error. What is sad is that many of these severe and debilitating injuries likely could have been avoided if the anesthesiologist had been vigilant and followed directions.

Many injuries could have been avoided if hospital staff had simply checked to see if the equipment was operational. It would seem obvious that this inspection should be a part of every surgical procedure, but this often is not done at all.

The failure to implement safety procedures at hospitals may seem time consuming and inconvenient for trained medical staff. Yet the failure to put in place protocol is what is too commonly blamed for the worst kinds of medical mistakes.

Brain damage as the result of an anesthesia error is devastating. Though the average verdict or settlement for medical malpractice claims concerning anesthesia mistakes mentioned in the above study was $226,400, the highest resolution for such a claim was reported at $9 million.

The size of this resolution is totally understandable when one examines the possible resulting injuries. Brain damage due to an anesthesia error could likely result in a lifetime disability or even death. Victims of such errors often require 24 hours of care for the rest of their lives.

It is because these sorts of errors occur that there is such a need for medical malpractice attorneys. A medical malpractice lawsuit can publicize mistakes hospitals make, and force needed changes within the medical field.

Source: Anesthesiology News, "Preventable Injuries Frequent in Anesthesia," by Alison McCook, Jan. 2013

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