Modern anesthetics allow surgeons in New York and throughout the country to transplant organs, repair shattered bones and remove tumors without worrying about patient comfort. The development of these powerful drugs has made surgery safer, but anesthesiologists must administer them carefully. Patients who do not receive enough anesthetic drugs may wake up in incredible pain, but administering too much anesthesia can be fatal.
Common anesthesia errors
Anesthesia is administered to patients both before and during surgical procedures, and most dosing errors occur while operations are in progress. Patients can also receive additional anesthetics when the devices used to administer them are flushed while still connected to an IV. Failing to properly monitor IV flow rates can lead to patients receiving too little or too much anesthesia. Fluid overload increases blood pressure and impairs breathing, while not maintaining a sufficient flow prevents anesthetic drugs from working.
Causes of anesthesia errors
Anesthesia errors often lead to medical malpractice lawsuits because they are usually caused by some sort of human error. The most common causes of dosing errors are carelessness, unfamiliarity with anesthesia equipment and inexperience, which could all be addressed by additional training. Mistakes become even more likely when operating room staff do not communicate well or are afraid to speak up when they have concerns. When a team of Egyptian researchers studied more than 2,400 operating room and anesthesia errors, they discovered that about 70% of them were caused by poor communication.
Making surgery safer
Medical errors cost the health care sector millions of dollars each year, but human error remains worryingly common in American hospitals. To prevent anesthesia errors during surgery, anesthesiologists should be given all of the training they need and operating room staff should be encouraged to focus on their tasks and communicate in a professional manner.