Can Anesthesia Malpractice Cause Brain Damage?

Anesthesia is a vital part of modern medical treatment, allowing patients to undergo complex surgical procedures that would be otherwise too painful to endure. Anesthesia comes in many forms, but essentially all forms of anesthesia exist to dull pain sensations and lull a patient into an unconscious state so he or she can safely receive medical treatment. Unfortunately, anesthesia malpractice can and does happen, and one of the most devastating consequences of anesthesia malpractice is brain damage.

How Can Anesthesia Malpractice Cause Brain Damage?

Anesthesiologists must not only administer anesthesia to patients correctly, but also carefully monitor the status of a patient for the duration of the anesthesia’s effects. Anesthesia negligence can cause brain damage in various ways. Here are some examples of anesthesia malpractice:

  • Anesthesiologists must monitor a patient under anesthesia to ensure he or she does not vomit during surgery. While under the effects of anesthesia, a patient may vomit and be unable to prevent the vomit from entering his or her lungs. Aspiration of vomit can lead to labored breathing and decreased oxygen flow to the brain, resulting in brain damage.
  • One of an anesthesiologist’s most crucial jobs during a surgical procedure is to monitor blood flow to the patient’s brain. Negligence can lead to blood loss which in turn reduces blood flow to the brain, potentially causing irreversible brain damage.
  • Most surgery patients require intubation, or the placement of a breathing tube into the patient’s trachea to ensure he or she can breathe properly during surgery. Failure to intubate a patient properly, failure to secure an intubation tube, or removing an intubation tube too soon could lead to oxygen deprivation and brain damage.

These are the most common ways anesthesia malpractice causes brain damage. When this occurs, the injured patient and his or her loved ones likely have grounds for a medical malpractice claim against the anesthesiologist and/or the rest of the surgical team responsible for the procedure.

Recovery After Brain Damage From Anesthesia Negligence

When anesthesia negligence causes patient brain damage, the patient and his or her family can secure compensation for this loss through a medical malpractice claim. This type of claim is very similar to a brain injury claim with some notable exceptions. Filing a medical malpractice claim requires proving that the defendant failed to meet the standard of care for the patient’s condition. Failure to monitor a patient under anesthesia or making a critical error while administering anesthesia or intubating a patient would be clear violations of the standard of care in most cases.

Before a medical malpractice claim can proceed to a full-fledged lawsuit, the medical board with jurisdiction over the defendant must first review the claim to determine whether the claimant has valid grounds for a malpractice claim. Medical malpractice describes a failure to meet the applicable standard of care for a patient’s condition. The medical board will review the claim to determine if a violation of the standard did occur and then allow the claimant to proceed with a lawsuit against the defendant.

Compensation for Brain Damage

Brain damage from anesthesia negligence is likely irreversible, and the effects may be minimal or devastating depending on the severity of the brain damage and the parts of the brain affected. The victim may be unable to pursue compensation on his or her own, leaving legal action to his or her spouse or other relatives. In a medical malpractice lawsuit for a brain injury, the plaintiff must prove the defendant violated the standard of care for the situation in question and directly caused the damages listed in the lawsuit. You should get some legal advice from a brain injury attorney if you have additional questions regarding a lawsuit.

Any kind of brain damage can have devastating, permanent consequences for the victim. It is possible that he or she could remain in a coma or vegetative state for an indeterminable amount of time or experience significant cognitive and intellectual impairment. Some people who suffer brain damage exhibit extreme personality shifts and may also have memory problems. Some of these issues may improve with time and others will not. Since permanent damage often comes into play in anesthesia negligence lawsuits, the potential compensation for pain and suffering, diminished quality of life, and permanent physical and/or mental disability can be quite substantial.