In this informative article, Robert Sullivan, Esq., a New York medical malpractice attorney, explains that a skilled anesthesiologist is just as important as a good surgeon for the successful outcome of an operation.
When a patient undergoes surgery, a primary concern is often the reputation of the hospital and the expertise of the surgeon. The role an anesthesiologist plays in the management of a patient during surgery is often overlooked. Although anesthesia is thought of, broadly, as a “pain killer,” the anesthesiologist’s responsibilities merely begin with prevention of pain during an operation.
Most critically, an anesthesiologist is charged with keeping the patient alive during the traumatic and hazardous phases of surgery. What doctors refer to as the maintenance of “hemodynamic stability” is entrusted to the anesthesiologist: this specialist must manage blood volume, ordering transfusions when needed, and monitor all of a patient’s vital signs during surgery. Of course, the anesthesiologist also keeps the patient sedated, unconscious, and pain-free throughout an operation. Anesthesiologists need to have a comprehensive knowledge of different anesthetics, human anatomy and metabolic processes to do their work successfully.
For example, what may be a sufficient dosage of anesthetic for a large, obese adult male may kill a small child. Patients who receive too much anesthesia may never “awaken”, and lapse into a permanent comatose state. The administration of too little anesthesia, on the other hand, could result in a patient moving or shifting during an operation, causing serious injury.
Although anesthesia’s use today is generally considered safe, a mistake made by the anesthesiologist can result in serious or fatal harm. Like other specialists, anesthesiologists can be sued for medical malpractice, and held accountable for their negligence.
Current statistics indicated that 1 out of every 250,000 patients undergoing surgery die as a result of anesthesia complications. Too often, these complications stem from medical malpractice on the part of the anesthesiologist. This malpractice can occur for a number of reasons, including, but not limited to: (1) failure to monitor the patient and her vital signs; (2) delayed administration of anesthetic, and (3) dosage errors.
If you think that you or someone you know has been a victim of medical malpractice, you should contact a New York medical malpractice attorney. A medical malpractice attorney will be able to obtain the medical records at issue, consult with experts, and determine whether you have a viable claim. Examination of medical records is especially important in claims arising from the administration of anesthesia; patients under anesthesia will not be aware of what is occurring while the medical malpractice takes place. The medical records, and, ultimately, the testimony of operating room personnel, often provide the best evidence of what went wrong. An expert, hired by your medical malpractice attorney, will investigate and confirm whether the care you received was appropriate. Equipped with this information, you and your attorney will then make the decision to bring a lawsuit.
Robert Sullivan, Esq., a New York medical malpractice lawyer