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Anesthesia errors can cause serious injury

Texans who have to have surgery often find that they need to be subjected to anesthesia. Anesthetic drugs are used to limit or eliminate pain, primarily during medical operations. These drugs can assist in controlling one's breathing, heart rate and blood pressure, ensuring that his or her body operates properly while still being numb to the pain.

There are three types of anesthesia that are used. Local anesthesia controls pain in only a small part of a patient's body and is primarily used for minor surgeries. In most cases, patients with this type of anesthesia remain awake. Regional anesthesia numbs a larger part of an individual's body. An example of regional anesthesia is an epidural. The last type of anesthesia is general anesthesia, where an individual's entire body, including his or her brain, is affected. In these instances, a patient is rendered unconscious.

Although anesthesia can be an effective way to manage pain, thereby allowing doctors to more effectively treat their patients, it can also cause serious harm to a patient when improperly administered. Anesthesia may not be a great option for those who suffer from heart disease or diabetes, so doctors who fail to pay attention to a patient's medical history can put that patient at risk of harm or death. Additionally, anesthetics must be administered properly so that a patient receive a dosage that is in accordance with their weight and need. An overdose of these drugs can prove deadly.

Those who have suffered harm due to an anesthesia error may have extensive damages. These damages can take many forms, including medical expenses, pain and suffering and lost wages. However, anesthesiologists owe their patients a certain duty of care, and if they breach that duty then they may be held liable for the harm they have caused. In these instances, a medical malpractice lawsuit may be pursued.

Source: WebMD, "Anesthesia - Topic Overview," accessed on Feb. 19, 2017

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