Anesthesia Errors: A Closer Look
In Florida, anesthesia mistakes disproportionately affect elderly, male patients, but anyone can be a victim at any time.
Largely because of the high medical duty of care outlined below, a Tampa medical malpractice attorney might be able to obtain substantial compensation in an anesthesia error case. That compensation usually includes money for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering. Additional punitive damages are normally available as well, if there is clear and convincing evidence that the anesthesiologist intentionally disregarded a known risk.
Medical Duty of Care
Typically, people have a duty of reasonable care in negligence cases. For example, noncommercial drivers must obey the rules of the road and avoid accidents when possible.
Doctors, however, usually have a fiduciary duty. They must set aside all other concerns and only do what is best for their patients. In practical terms, what might pass as a one-off accident in some contexts is actionable negligence in a medical malpractice claim.
Expert testimony is usually important to establish the standard of care and also establish the anesthesiologist’s breach of care. The best expert witnesses are knowledgeable in their fields and are able to connect with jurors. Only a select few people meet both these needs.
Common Anesthesia Errors
Generally, there are three steps in the anesthesia process. The physician must interview the patient and determine the proper approach. Then, the anesthesiologist must administer the medication. Finally, the anesthesiologist must monitor the patient.
Mistakes can occur during any of these phases, especially since in many cases, things happen very quickly. That’s especially common in labor and delivery situations. Some examples of anesthesia mistakes include:
- Overdose/Underdose: Too much medicine, and the patient might have trouble breathing during the procedure or the patient might not wake up at all. Not enough medication, and the patient might almost literally wake up in the middle of a nightmare.
- Anaphylactic Reactions: Some people have severe reactions to certain substances and certain medicines. Since most people have never had surgery before, the doctor is almost totally dependent on medical records to determine medication allergies. So, a cursory review is not enough.
- Inadequate Monitoring: Many anesthesiologists do not accompany their patients to the operating room. Some do not even remain at the hospital. A few even disable monitor alarms so they will not be disturbed.
All these errors clearly fall below the standard of care. So, the insurance company is hard-pressed to defend these claims in court.
Resolving Medical Malpractice Claims
Most of these claims settle out of court. Unfortunately, even if liability is relatively clear, many of these cases do not settle straightaway. Instead, the insurance company drags its feet.
If that happens, most Hillsborough County judges refer the matter to mediation. A third-party mediation tries to facilitate a settlement between the victim and insurance company. If both sides negotiate in good faith, mediation is usually successful.
Contact Assertive Lawyers
Medical malpractice victims might be entitled to substantial compensation. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney in Tampa, contact The Matassini Law Firm. We do not charge upfront legal fees in these cases. www.matassinilaw.com