Even routine surgeries involve risk, particularly when they require general anesthesia. Fortunately, serious complications from general anesthesia are rare.
When things do go wrong, however, you may have grounds for a medical malpractice lawsuit.
Side effects from general anesthesia are typically mild and temporary. These include:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Sore throat
- Difficulty urinating
- Bruising and soreness at the IV site
Sometimes, more serious complications occur, such as respiratory issues, long-term cognitive issues or malignant hyperthermia, a potentially fatal reaction caused by a gene mutation. In people with this gene mutation, general anesthesia drugs can cause fever and muscle contractions.
Before surgery, your medical team should evaluate your family and health history. If malignant hyperthermia runs in your family, your doctor may recommend tests to assess your risk.
Negligence and mistakes
While rare, anesthesia-related errors can have severe consequences.
Incomplete medical history
If your medical team fails to take a thorough medical history before your surgery, they may overlook critical risk factors.
If you do not receive proper pre-surgery instructions, such as when to stop eating and drinking, you may experience aspiration pneumonia or other complications.
Administering too much anesthesia can cause organ damage while administering too little can cause you to regain consciousness during surgery.
The anesthesiologist should move you periodically during your operation. If you lie still for too long while under general anesthesia, you can experience nerve damage.
Inattention to vital signs
Inattention or faulty monitoring equipment can cause medical staff to overlook changes in your vital signs during and immediately after surgery.
Not all anesthesia complications are the result of malpractice. However, if your medical team was negligent in caring for you before, during or after surgery, you might be able to recover damages.