Everything about surgery is dangerous. It involves a human, who could make a mistake or succumb to a medical event, cutting another person open and removing, fixing or even transplanting something. Surgeries range in complexity from simple procedures to remove an appendix to hours-long operations to reconstruct damaged tissue.
People often think about the cutting as the most dangerous part of the surgery. While the risk for mistakes is obvious during the procedure, many patients will be in more danger immediately before the operation starts than during the actual operation.
Anesthesia is invaluable but also incredibly dangerous
Modern surgery would not be possible without anesthetizing medicines that reduce physical sensation and render people unconscious. Doctors use a combination of many drugs to achieve a variety of medical results. Anesthesiologists are some of the most carefully trained medical professionals.
By sedating an individual, an anesthesiologist ensures that the surgeon has a stable and non-moving patient on whom to operate. They can also lower the patient’s heart rate to reduce the risk of excessive blood loss.
However, adverse reactions to anesthesia can be severe. People can stop breathing or go into anaphylactic shock if they have an unknown allergy to a drug used. Those issues can crop up even when an anesthesiologist does everything right. Unfortunately, mistakes can occur during the process of sedating a patient.
How often do anesthesia mistakes occur?
Minor mistakes in drug administration happen all the time and often have minimal impact on patients. However, mistakes with anesthesia can be fatal or lead to traumatizing experiences, like wakefulness during an operation.
According to an analysis of reported patient injuries and medical mistakes, anesthesia mistakes before surgery account for roughly 79,500 serious drug errors each year, which is just over 5% of the total medication errors reported annually.
Serious anesthesia mistakes could mean a delayed surgery or even the loss of a loved one. Recognizing that anesthesia mistakes occur could help you hold someone accountable after one of the most dangerous forms of medical malpractice affects your care.