One of the traumatic consequences of an anesthesia mistake is oxygen deprivation. This can lead to brain damage and cognitive impairment. The effects will depend on the severity of the injury, which is affected by the length of time the brain was deprived of oxygen. If this injury was the result of negligence, compensation may be recoverable by filing a medical malpractice claim.
An Overview of Cognitive Impairment
Oxygen deprivation causes brain cells to die and the brain requires oxygen to perform essential biochemical functions. The longer the oxygen deprivation, the more likely it will cause permanent damage or even death.
The following are just some of the cognitive symptoms patients may experience:
- trouble reasoning;
- trouble learning new things;
- difficulty focusing; and
- memory loss.
Responding quickly with treatment is critical if a patient is deprived of oxygen. Without immediate medical intervention, the patient could sustain complete brain dysfunction or remain in a vegetative state.
Effects of Cognitive Impairment
Age plays a large role in how the cognitive disability caused by the anesthesia error affects the patient. Younger patients may require special education assistance at school, for example, while earning capability may be among the most immediate effected in adults. Of course, reduced earning capacity can be a long-term effect even when children are affected.
Patients may require a caregiver if they can no longer perform certain daily functions as a result of injuries stemming from oxygen deprivation. All of this can lead to a great financial burden for the patient and his or her family.
Patients affected by oxygen deprivation during surgery can address these damages in a legal claim. Claimants can recover compensation for these damages, as well as any medical treatment that’s required now or in the future.
Types of Anesthesia Errors That May Lead to Cognitive Impairment
Administering anesthesia incorrectly during surgery is one type of error that can cause oxygen deprivation. Oftentimes it’s a result of giving too much. Failing to monitor the patient’s vital signs is another potentially life-threatening mistake. Or not updating the patient’s anesthesia record, which shows all anesthesia the patient has received, could also lead to errors.
If the equipment used during the procedure malfunctions or the patient isn’t properly intubated, this can lead to complications as well. An example would be accidentally placing the tube into the esophagus instead of the trachea.
Not only could these kinds of negligence lead patients to file claims for compensation against the negligent physician, failure to promptly and properly treat a patient who is showing clear signs of oxygen deprivation could also be considered negligent.
Some errors take place long before the procedure. For instance, when meeting with the patient some doctors may fail to inquire about any negative reactions the patient has experienced in the past with anesthesia. Healthcare professionals should also ask about any allergies to determine if the patient could suffer an allergic reaction during the procedure.
Although surgery is a common example of when anesthesia errors can happen, they can also occur during labor and delivery. No matter the setting, if negligence causes injuries it could lead to the anesthesiologist being held liable. In some cases, nurses and other medical staff may also be responsible.
Seeking Legal Advice When an Anesthesia Mistake Causes Cognitive Impairment
It can be difficult to prove that an anesthesiologist or another healthcare provider failed to act in a reasonable manner. To discuss your rights to pursue compensation, contact an attorney today. At Gacovino, Lake & Associates, our clients discuss their cases with attorneys who can explain their rights and review the circumstances to discuss how to best approach each one.