How Often Do Anesthesiologists Get The Dosage Wrong?

A great number of malpractice lawsuits concern mistakes that were made by anesthesiologists during a surgery. Part of the problem is the difficulty in getting the formula right. Anesthetics can be designed to reduce signals from the brain to a particular part of the body, or completely knock you unconscious. But how often does something go wrong and what happens as a result?

A study of anesthetic errors during surgery found that about five percent of drug administrations are incorrect or lead to complications. That means you have about a 1 in 20 chance of receiving drugs in error during or after any surgery. Are you comfortable with those numbers? No, probably not. That’s why there are so many medical malpractice lawsuits after even routine operations.

Anesthesiologists aren’t ignorant of the problem, even if they don’t know how bad it really is. The drugs you receive during surgery (or after) are closely regulated. The biggest part of the problem isn’t something likely to change anytime soon: Surgery occurs in real time, and that means most decisions must be made quickly. That means more mistakes.

What kinds of complications result from an incorrect dosage?

Most complications are minor, but the number grows with the age of a patient. After general anesthesia, patients are more likely to experience nausea or vomiting, sore throat, dry mouth, shivering, drowsiness, achiness, or itching.

If you experience more serious complications such as confusion, trouble urinating after surgery, organ paralysis, aspiration and pneumonia, blood clots, or malignant hyperthermia, then it’s time to seek the counsel of a lawyer. Malignant hyperthermia is a genetic reaction to anesthesia and probably isn’t your doctor’s fault. It can lead to high fever, organ failure, and even death. Another rare condition is called anesthesia awareness. This occurs when the anesthesia does not render you unconscious. If you remember a surgery you shouldn’t, then speak with a lawyer.

It’s also important to recognize that the patient or underlying conditions can contribute to an incorrect dosage if relevant information is not fully disclosed. Complications during surgery are more likely to result if you smoke, have high blood pressure or diabetes, or if you suffer from sleep apnea, seizures, or high blood pressure. Make sure your doctors know everything there is to know!