Anesthesia, if properly administered, can allow us to undergo a wide spectrum of procedures which would otherwise be impossible to perform. Most of the time there are no major complications from the use of anesthesia. However, mistakes sometimes happen and the results can be deadly.
The National Institute of Health provided an analysis of a report issued by the American Journal of Anesthesiology published in April of 2009, which studied anesthesia related deaths from 1995 to 2005. The report cited 2,211 deaths during that time period either directly related to anesthesia, or where it was a major contributing factor.
There are several factors that contribute to anesthesia mistakes:
- Insufficient or inaccurate medical history completed by the anesthesiologist;
- Equipment malfunction;
- Inaccurate dosing or dispensing of medication;
- Lack of communication during the procedure between medical team members;
- Poor monitoring of the equipment and/or the patients’ status during the procedure;;
- Failure to follow procedure and;
- Inadequate training by the anesthesiologist or of the medical staff.
Anesthesia mistakes can lead to low blood pressure or inadequate blood flow to major organs such as the brain. These mistakes can often be catastrophic, resulting in a heart attack, stroke, paralysis, brain damage or even death. If the patient survives such a mistake, the emotional and monetary costs of the long term care and loss of income can be devastating. The family members of the patient in many cases are left to mourn the death of a loved one or struggling with the financial impact the loss brings. Most of the time the use of anesthesia can be very beneficial but you should always be aware of the risks associated with any procedure and should always discuss the risk associated with anesthesia with your doctor.