Pediatric Anesthesia Errors
Attorneys for Child Anesthesia Medical Malpractice in New Jersey
When a child has to undergo any type of surgery or procedure, it can be an extremely frightening experience for parents. Although you assume this diagnostic or treatment procedure will help your child, there are a variety of things that can go wrong. Surgeries are inherently risky and being placed under anesthesia carries its own risks. For children, the use of anesthetic drugs has been long-debated among members of the medical community. In fact, recent research has shown that anesthesia may cause brain damage in young children under the age of three. Sometimes, the anesthesia itself is not the problem. Instead, anesthesia errors made by medical professionals responsible for the success of the procedure cause direct and catastrophic harm to innocent young patients. When a child is injured as a result of medical mistakes with anesthesia, it is imperative for their caregivers to understand the legal options they may have to hold negligent doctors and others accountable.
What is Anesthesia?
Anesthesia is used in medicine, typically prior to surgeries or other medical procedures, to prevent patients from experiencing the pain or discomfort associated with what is being done. Some of the potential effects of anesthesia include: sleepiness or unconsciousness, amnesia, relaxation, lack of pain sensation, reduced reflexes, and decreased stress response. Anesthetics are the medicines used to induce a state of unconsciousness for the desired period. These drugs can also assist doctors with controlling the patient’s heart rate, blood pressure, breathing, and other vital functions during a procedure. Although anesthesia can be very useful, it also requires exactness in terms of administration and monitoring. Errors before, during, or after a child undergoes a procedure with anesthesia may result in serious complications.
Types of Anesthesia
There are several different types of anesthesia. Which type is used in a specific case will depend on the the child’s age, current and previous health, medications they are taking, the type of surgery or procedure, and any test results. The anesthesia options that may be administered to a child in need of a medical procedure are:
- General anesthesia: the child is totally unconscious. This type of anesthesia impacts the brain and the entire body.
- Regional anesthesia: the child may be relaxed or put to sleep. This type of anesthesia prevents pain in a larger area of the body. Examples of regional anesthesia include epidural/spinal anesthesia and peripheral nerve blocks.
- Local anesthesia: most often the child remains awake during the procedure. This type of anesthesia is used to numb a small part of the body for a minor procedure.
Common Medical Mistakes with Anesthesia
Anesthesia errors can happen in a myriad of ways. Some of the most common causes for anesthesia malpractice lawsuits include:
- Administering the wrong anesthetic
- Administering too much anesthesia
- Administering too little anesthesia, which may cause anesthesia awareness
- Delayed administration of one or more anesthetics
- Failure to monitor a patient under anesthesia
- Allergic reactions
- Adverse anesthesia interactions with other medications
- Failure to give appropriate instructions to the patient or their parents prior to a procedure
- Using defective or inadequately maintained anesthesia devices or equipment
Who can be Negligent with a Child’s Anesthesia?
There are a variety of individuals who may make mistakes involving anesthesia that cause harm to a child, some of which include:
- Medical staff
Additionally, defective medical equipment may lead to anesthesia-related injuries. Hospitals and other medical facilities are responsible for the appropriate maintenance and functioning of their equipment. These organizations may be held liable in cases involving anesthesia equipment problems.
Anesthesia for Children under Age 3
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) first issued a warning about the risks associated with anesthesia for young children in 2016. The FDA’s Drug Safety Communication was based on recent studies investigating the effect of general anesthetics and other sedative medications on children and fetuses. Some research with both animal and human subjects has linked general anesthetics and sedating drugs with brain development issues in young children. Currently, parents should be aware that the repeated and prolonged use of anesthesia and sedatives in children under age 3 and pregnant women in their third trimester may causes problems with child brain development. It is the doctor’s responsibility to weigh the benefits of appropriate anesthesia in young children and pregnant women versus the potential dangers. This is particularly important for procedures longer than 3 hours or when children require multiple procedures before age 3. Doctors must ensure parents and caregivers are informed about the benefits and drawbacks associated with the use of anesthetic and sedation drugs.
Was Your Child Injured by Anesthesia Negligence in New Jersey?
If your child suffered harm resulting from an anesthesia error in New Jersey, you should speak with an experienced medical malpractice attorney about your right to pursue damages. With offices in Newark and Manhattan, our legal team represents children victimized by negligent doctors and other medical professionals throughout the New Jersey area. Call (866)-708-8617 or contact us online to receive a free consultation about your child’s anesthesia-related injury case.