According to the
Mayo Clinic, anesthesia complications are rare but do occur. The most commonly seen
injuries from anesthesia are due to negligence, and can include brain
injury, death, coma, heart attack, and stroke. Here’s what you need
to know about anesthesia complications, how they can be avoided, and what
to do if you or a loved one were the victim of an anesthesia complication.

The Importance of Screening Patients Before General Anesthesia

Proper screening is paramount to ensuring that anesthesia is safe for a
particular patient. Screening should include:

  • Allergy evaluation. It should be determined whether or not a patient has an allergy to any
    of the drugs used during anesthesia, and if they do, that drug and any
    drug in the same class should be avoided.
  • Prescription medication evaluation. The patient’s full prescription history should be evaluated to determine
    if the patient is taking any medications that are contraindicated with
    the anesthesia agents. If a patient is given anesthesia and they are taking
    a medication that is contraindicated, anaphylactic shock may occur, which
    requires immediate resuscitation.
  • Physical evaluation. Patients with certain health or physical conditions may need to undergo
    testing to ensure their heart and lungs can withstand the stress that
    anesthesia puts on the cardiovascular system. Additionally, the height
    and weight of a patient, as well as their history of tolerating anesthesia,
    should be evaluated since the dose of anesthetics must be calculated properly
    according to the individual patient.

Failure to properly screen a patient before anesthesia can easily lead
to a critical or even deadly result.

The Importance of Giving Anesthesia Correctly

First and foremost, anesthesia drugs must be given slowly and titrated
carefully according to the information gleaned from the original evaluation.
Errors in the amount of anesthesia given or at what rate they are given
can cause cardiac and respiratory distress.

When patients undergo anesthesia, the anesthetic drugs used cause patients
to stop breathing. A ventilator must be used to take over breathing for
the patient. In order to accomplish this, the patient must first be intubated.
A small mouth or narrow airway can cause difficulty in placing the intubation
tube, and if placed incorrectly, such as in the esophagus instead of the
trachea, air flow will go into the stomach instead of the lungs.

Additionally, if the drugs are given before the intubation tube is inserted
properly, the patient could potentially stop breathing before systems
are in place to breathe for them.

Oxygen is crucial during anesthesia, and a lack of it can cause severe
injury and even death. The heart and lungs will be the last to suffer
damage, however, brain damage can occur in just three to five minutes
without adequate oxygen.

The Importance of Monitoring Patients While Under Anesthesia

Careful monitoring of blood pressure, heart rate, and respiration is required
while a patient is anesthetized; however, most anesthesia doctors leave
the room once the patient is put to sleep. Many hospitals have as many
as eight operating rooms and surgeries going on at the same time in each
one. One or two anesthesiologists will cover the entire operating suite
with the anesthesia assistants or nurse anesthetists directly monitoring
each patient.

Some of the most significant problems that can occur during the monitoring
of a patient under anesthesia is the over or under ventilation of a patient.
A patient who is over ventilated can experience a buildup of carbon dioxide,
which can cause respiratory or cardiac arrest. Under ventilation may result
in the patient not receiving enough oxygen to the brain and vital organs.

The Importance of Reversing Anesthesia Drugs

When the procedure has been completed, the anesthesiologist must reverse
the drugs in the patient’s system so they can begin to breath on
their own again. If the patient is taken off the ventilator before the
drugs have been reversed completely, they may struggle to breathe on their own.

Additionally, if the anesthesia drugs are not completely reversed when
the patient is moved to the recovery room, the patient may experience
a severe drop in blood pressure or may stop breathing while in recovery.


Anesthesia accidents can be explained by inattention, inexperience, or
someone just not doing their job completely or correctly. In most cases,
injuries resulting from anesthesia could have been prevented if the doctors
or persons assisting them followed the proper rules.

Victims of
anesthesia complications and their families need professional help to gather evidence and analyze
the situation. If you or a loved one has suffered because of a problem
with anesthesia, you should contact us here at the Mellino Law Firm, LLC.
You can schedule a free and confidential legal consultation by dialing
(440) 333-3800.