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New York City Medical Malpractice Law Blog

When Do Anesthesia Side-Effects Become Anesthesia Errors?

By Rosenberg, Minc, Falkoff & Wolff, LLP. posted in Anesthesia Error on Friday, July 26, 2019.

The purpose of anesthesia is to ensure that you are comfortable and pain-free during any medical procedure or surgery. There are 4 different types of anesthesia that are used for specific procedures, and the type of anesthesia you receive is entirely dependent on the procedure you are having done as well as your general health and possibly your own preferences. 

Types of Anesthesia

Local Anesthesia

Local anesthesia is used for minor, common procedures in which you are fully alert and awake. The anesthesia only numbs the small area of the procedure - such as when you receive stitches 

Side-effects of local anesthesia include:

  • Tinnitus (ringing in your ears)
  • Dizziness
  • Numbness
  • Involuntary muscle twitches

It is extremely rare for a doctor to make an anesthesia error with such a simple and minimally invasive procedure, however, side-effects that indicate that an anesthesia error may have occurred include:

  • Seizures
  • Hypotension (low blood pressure)
  • Slowed heart rate
  • Breathing difficulties

IV/Monitored Sedation

Also known as “conscious sedation,” this type of anesthesia is used for minimally invasive procedures - such as a root canal. Your level of alertness and consciousness depends on the procedure and the amount of sedation your doctor deems necessary.

Side-effects of IV/monitored sedation include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Slow reflexes
  • Headache
  • Feeling sick
  • Sluggishness
  • Amnesia (loss of memory of what happened during the procedure) 

As with local anesthesia, it is rare for a doctor to make an anesthesia error during these procedures, however, side-effects that indicate that an anesthesia error may have occurred include:

Seizures

  • Hypotension (low blood pressure)
  • Slowed heart rate
  • Breathing difficulties

Regional Anesthesia

Unlike local anesthesia and IV/monitored sedation, regional anesthesia (also known as spinal or epidural anesthesia) is used for more complicated procedures that involve the arms, legs, and abdomen - such as epidurals during childbirth. You remain awake and alert during your procedure, however, a large part of your body is numbed 

Side-effects of regional anesthesia include:

  • Allergic reaction
  • Severe headache
  • Feeling sick

Because regional anesthesia is used for more complicated surgeries, it is more likely that your doctor may make an anesthesia error. Side-effects which can indicate that this has occurred include:

  • Hematoma (bleeding around the spinal column)
  • Hypotension (low blood pressure)
  • Meningitis (infection in your brain/spine)
  • Seizures
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Slowed heart rate
  • Difficulty urinating (due to bladder paralysis)

General Anesthesia

This is the riskiest anesthesia, as it is used for major operations - such as open-heart surgery. You are completely unalert and unconscious throughout your procedure. Side-effects that you can expect after general anesthesia include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Sore throat
  • Hoarseness
  • Dry mouth
  • Fever
  • Drowsiness
  • Muscle aches

Because general anesthesia is used for highly complicated surgeries, it is more likely that your doctor may make an anesthesia error. Side-effects that indicate that this may have occurred include:

  • Confusion
  • Difficulty urinating (due to bladder paralysis)
  • Urinary tract infection (UTI)
  • Ileus (due to intestine paralysis)
  • Difficulty getting off the ventilator
  • Anesthesia aspiration
  • Pneumonia
  • Deep vein thrombosis (blood clots)
  • Malignant hyperthermia
  • Unintended intraoperative awareness

Legal Matters

Due to the complexity of anesthesia and the variety of anesthesia errors that can occur, it is crucial that you contact a medical malpractice lawyer if you are going to embark on a medical malpractice lawsuit due to an anesthesia error. 

Only a qualified NYC medical malpractice attorney, who is familiar with the laws specific to the state of NYC, is able to review your documentation and records in order to determine whether you have a viable case or not. Should you have a viable case, your NYC medical malpractice lawyer will then initiate the proceedings to start a lawsuit on your behalf and guide you through the entire process.

Contact

If you believe that you or a family member may have experienced complications due to an anesthesia error, please contact the medical malpractice lawyers of Rosenburg, Minc, Falkoff & Wolff LLP in NYC today and speak to one of our medical malpractice attorneys.

When you are ready to talk, we are ready to listen. Call 1-866-516-5887 for a free, confidential consultation.

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