If you are working with anesthesia and make a mistake that impacts a patient, then there is a risk that you could have a malpractice claim filed against you. You may also be at risk of losing your license to practice.
Not all anesthesia complications are a result of errors, though. In some cases, even minor errors may not have played the largest role in a patient’s injury or death. This is why it’s important to defend yourself if you’re accused. Whether a mistake happened or not, these are serious allegations that could threaten your career.
How do anesthesia complications happen?
Anesthesia complications may happen for many reasons ranging from patients not telling the hospital and anesthesiologist about all of their medications to reactions to the medications used. Not all of these complications are a result of an anesthesiologist’s mistakes.
For example, if a patient suffers from anaphylaxis while under anesthesia, the anesthesiologist will need to respond quickly to address the allergic reaction and save the patient’s life. If there was no history of allergic reactions to medications, or if the patient never informed the facility, then the anesthesiologist is unlikely to be held responsible for giving a patient a medication they’re allergic to.
On the other hand, if a lack of communication led to the anesthesiologist giving a patient medications that were noted allergies, then they could be accused of malpractice. In a worst-case scenario, they may lose their license for making a severe error that led to a patient’s serious injuries or death.
What can anesthesiologists do to protect themselves?
Good communication is of the utmost importance when working with general anesthesia. If an anesthesiologist isn’t sure about a patient’s allergies, they should check before administering any medications. They should also keep life-saving medications nearby and ready to be administered.
During treatment, they should remain present in the operating room. If they need to step out, then another anesthesiologist should be present or ready to respond as their backup. These kinds of steps may help protect them if they’re later accused of malpractice and need to defend their actions.