Types of Medical Malpractice Insurance

Anesthesia Error


Most Common Cases of Anesthesia Error Malpractice

Anesthesia is really important in order prevent pain or discomfort for patients during certain medical procedures. However, it is not without risk and medical malpractice cases involving anesthesia can happen during major operations as well as with common elective procedures. A study by Webster et al, found that the frequency of anesthetic errors was 0.75% or 1 in every 133 administered anesthetics, demonstrating that  anesthesia errors are more frequent that previously reported.

Some of the most common anesthesia mistakes include giving the wrong dosage (too little or too much anesthesia), improper patient intubation, failure to properly monitor patient, not recognizing adverse interactions between anesthetics and patient medications, administering the wrong anesthesia, failure to determine allergy to an anesthesia or wrongfully administering anesthesia a patient is allergic to. Anesthesia errors can happen for several reasons, including:

  • Dosing errors
  • Unintentional administration of residual anesthetics
  • Documentation errors
  • Failure to review patient’s medical history
  • Improper control of IV flow rate
  • Improper training


Which Specialties Are Affected the Most?

Although hospitals can be held liable, anesthesia errors fall under the purview of the anesthesiologist and his/her team. According to research by the Institute for Civil Justice and RAND Health, anesthesiology is within the top 20 specialties facing a malpractice claim each year. 

What Can Practitioners Do to Limit the Occurrence of Anesthesia Error Cases?

Errors leading to anesthesia lawsuit cases can happen at any step from preparation of the anesthetic to its administration. Anesthesia professionals need to be extremely aware of the damages and injuries that anesthesia errors can cause. In order to avoid these mistakes, practitioners and hospitals can implement the following:

  • Encourage staff to speak up when dosage or equipment questions arise
  • Implement processes to ensure correct documentation
  • Double checking equipment (syringes, doses, ampoules, etc)
  • Ensure clear communication amongst all involved in the procedure

Ensuring that patients can undergo necessary procedures without pain and suffering is an extremely important aspect of medicine. Without anesthesia, some procedures would be impossible to perform or would be left up to the patient’s threshold for pain. Whenever harm is caused to a patient due to errors in anesthesia, the outcomes can be irreversible and even fatal. Therefore, it is of utmost importance that anesthesiologists and their teams have procedures in place to ensure the safety of the patients as well as having reliable malpractice insurance for when these mistakes do occur.

Read more about common types of medical malpractice cases here.