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Anesthesia Related Deaths on the Decline

Written by Berkowitz

anesthesia with pills over the paperwork

Anesthesia Diagnosis malpractice attorneyA well-known risk involved with any medical surgery is the potential for complications caused by adverse reactions to anesthesia. The Journal of Healthcare Risk Management recently published a study revealing a decline in anesthesia-related fatalities. Approximately 357 patients for every million reportedly died from general anesthesia before 1970, but by the 2000s, anesthesia was responsible for only 34 fatalities per every million surgeries. While this indicates progress, medical professionals continue to warn of the various complications that may arise when a patient is under anesthesia.


What is Anesthesia?

Anesthesia involves combinations of drugs to prevent pain and sedate a patient before and during surgery. Anesthesiologists are trained to administer these drugs, but the procedure requires focus, skill, and extensive knowledge of drug interactions and contraindications. Different types of surgery may require different types of anesthesia, such as spinal anesthesia injected into the epidural space within the spine to numb the lower half of the body. Alternatively, regional anesthesia numbs an entire limb or area of the body, while local anesthesia is used for smaller, more focused areas of the body. General anesthesia creates a catatonic state, numbing the body but intentionally leaving the patient partially conscious.

Communication with Medical Professionals

Approximately 15% of anesthesia-based malpractice lawsuits are a result of incomplete medical assessments, and as such, communication with medical professionals is the best defense against complications with anesthesia. The anesthesiologist must obtain an accurate preoperative assessment of your medical health and history, including any medications, vitamins, or herbal supplements you are currently taking. In addition, a history of allergies, seizures, sleep apnea, and previous reactions to anesthesia affect the anesthesiologist’s options and selections for your surgery. Having an in-depth, detailed discussion with your physician regarding what to expect before, during, and after the procedure helps to reduce risk and put your mind at ease.

Statistics and Facts About Anesthesia

The most common causes of anesthesia-related fatalities include:

  • Adverse effects, such as allergic reaction, accounting for 42.5%.
  • Complications during labor and delivery, accounting for 3.6%.
  • Overdose of anesthesia, accounting for 46.6%.

The risk of complications increases with the following factors:

  • High blood pressure
  • Obstructive sleep apnea
  • Smoking
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Heavy, regular alcohol use
  • Pre-existing lung, kidney, or heart conditions
  • Blood thinners and medications that exacerbate bleeding
  • Patients 85 and older

Berkowitz and Hanna LLC – Connecticut’s Medical Malpractice Attorneys

Anesthesia errors can result in potentially debilitating health issues including death. This experience is exacerbated as medical expenses accumulate and wages are lost due to extended recovery periods. At Berkowitz and Hanna LLC, we understand the toll a medical malpractice suit can take on our clients, and our attorneys will advocate aggressively for your legal rights. Our team of highly-skilled, knowledgeable attorneys and support staff will be by your side throughout the entire process. Contact one of our attorney offices in Ridgefield, Wilton, or Milford for a free consultation today.