While considerable advances in medical technology have improved the anesthesia field, patients may still suffer harm from an improper dose or the wrong kind of anesthetic. When errors injure a patient, the administering party may be liable in a medical malpractice lawsuit.

Pursuing justice and compensation can be difficult, but a Poughkeepsie anesthesia error lawyer with experience handling these cases could help you navigate this legal process. A seasoned medical malpractice attorney could thoroughly investigate what caused the error and aggressively pursue compensation on your behalf.

Different Types of Anesthesia

The type of anesthesia administered depends on elements such as the type of procedure being performed and the characteristics of the patient. The three primary types of anesthesia are:

  • Local anesthesia — Numbs only the specific part of the body that is being operated on, such as the foot, hand, or shoulder.
  • Regional anesthesia — Inhibits pain in a certain part of the body, such as sensation below the waist if a patient is undergoing a cesarean section.
  • General anesthesia — Induces unconsciousness by placing the whole body into a deep sleep. The individual should feel nothing and not remember the surgical procedure.

Common Injuries and Damages Stemming from Anesthesia Errors

While side effects like nausea, pain, and vomiting are commonly associated with anesthesia, more severe injuries and complications could include:

  • Temporary mental confusion or delirium
  • Damage to the larynx
  • Respiratory issues
  • Tooth damage due to improper intubation
  • Severe allergic reaction or anaphylaxis
  • Brain damage because of oxygen deprivation
  • Stroke or heart attack
  • Nerve injuries

Such injuries could be due to errors that occurred when the anesthesia was administered to the patient, which includes giving too little or too much of the anesthetic, failing to monitor the individual properly. That failure to monitor could lead to missed and dangerous complications like dropping respiration, a rapid heart rate, or dangerously declining blood pressure.

In scenarios where the anesthesia error was due to the recklessness of negligent medical staff that administered the anesthesia, a Poughkeepsie attorney could help the individual file a medical malpractice lawsuit to recover damages, like medical costs, lost wages, emotional anguish, as well as pain and suffering. New York Civil Practice Laws and Rules §214-A establishes a two year and six-month statutory deadline to file a lawsuit for an anesthesia error. Barring one of the exceptions outlined under New York law, missing the filing deadline could cause the court to deny the case outright.

Proving Negligence and Identifying the Liable Parties

A Poughkeepsie anesthesia error attorney must prove many conditions to show that the hospital or anesthesiologist acted negligently. This typically involves demonstrating that the medical provider was incompetent and failed to provide the appropriate standard of care that would be performed by another prudent professional in the same field.

The attorney could work with an expert witness to pinpoint what went wrong when the anesthesia was administered. Usually, hospitals are not liable for an anesthesiologist’s errors as they are contractors. Under these circumstances, an attorney could scrutinize the employment contract between the doctor and hospital to determine if the facility bears any legal responsibility.

If the anesthesiologist was an employee of the hospital, the facility could be liable for negligently hiring an anesthesiologist who practiced dangerously, or the anesthesiologist may be solely responsible for a victim’s injuries. A skilled anesthesia error lawyer in Poughkeepsie could carefully review the plaintiff’s case and identify all potential defendants.

Claiming Damages in an Anesthesia Error Case

Besides establishing that the anesthesiologist was negligent, a malpractice attorney must also offer proof of the patient’s losses. Damages are sums of money that a plaintiff might receive from a settlement with an insurance company or through a court verdict.

Economic Damages

Economic damages reimburse a plaintiff for costs related to the injury that the defendant caused. In the case of an anesthesia error, a patient could claim that their medical expenses related to the procedure, and other treatment they needed was because of the injury that followed. If the injury will require medical intervention in the future, damages could cover the projected cost. Any incidental expenses the patient incurred while seeking treatment, such as mileage, parking, insurance copayments, prescription costs, and similar expenses, might be included as part of their damages.

Sometimes a plaintiff’s injury prevents them from doing tasks they normally perform, such as yard work or child care. The cost of hiring someone to handle those services could be part of the plaintiff’s damages.

If the injury required a plaintiff to miss work, their damages would include the income they lost. If they used vacation time or sick days, they could seek the value of these benefits in their damages as well. If the injury will prevent the plaintiff from resuming their former employment, their damages could include a sum acknowledging their reduced earning opportunities. An anesthesia malpractice lawyer in Poughkeepsie could help with this.

Non-Economic Damages

The results of an anesthesia error are not always tangible and a plaintiff might suffer other significant losses that do not have a fixed monetary value. These are non-economic damages, and an attorney might prove them by presenting testimony from the plaintiff, their family members and associates, or sometimes by presenting videotapes of the impact that the injury had on the plaintiff’s life.

A plaintiff could receive non-economic damages to compensate for their inconvenience, embarrassment, and other emotional suffering. If their injury affected their appearance, they could receive damages for disfigurement. If they experience physical pain resulting from their anesthesia injury, non-economic damages could include a sum to compensate them for their physical discomfort.

Plaintiff’s Conduct Could Affect Compensation

New York observes the doctrine of pure comparative negligence. The doctrine holds that each party in a negligence action should be responsible for the consequences of their conduct.

In any negligence lawsuit, including a medical malpractice action, the court scrutinizes each party’s behavior to determine their degree of responsibility for the incident that caused the injury. If a plaintiff is partially at fault, the court adjusts their damages to reflect their degree of responsibility.

In other words, a plaintiff who is 30 percent responsible for their injury will receive only 70 percent of their damages from the defendant. The plaintiff will have to absorb the rest.

This situation might arise in an anesthesia injury case if the plaintiff disobeyed pre-procedure instructions, failed to disclose relevant medical history, or contributed to the incident in some other way. To minimize the impact of such disclosures on the outcome of a case, it is critical for a patient to candidly discuss any such issues with their attorney.

Call an Experienced Poughkeepsie Anesthesia Error Attorney

If you were injured by an anesthesia mistake, an experienced Poughkeepsie anesthesia error lawyer could analyze the details of your case and answer your questions. Call today to find out more about your legal options and any financial damages available in your malpractice claim.