Improper use of Spinal Anesthetics

Anesthetization is necessary for many medical procedures and surgeries. Anesthesia blocks nerve impulses so that the patient does not feel sensations or pain. Spinal anesthesia can be given in different forms. With an epidural anesthesia, a hollow needle with a catheter attachment is inserted into the epidural space just in front of the spine. This is done in the mid to lower back. The effect is numbing to the area regionally above and below the insertion site. Spinal anesthesia is much the same as an epidural in effect and application (i.e., needle insertion), but into the cerebral spinal fluid instead of the epidural space. Some common side effects of spinal anesthesia are chills, shakiness, nausea, vomiting, fever, swelling and bruising at administration site, numbness of area administered to (measured in hours, not days), or headache.

Serious complications that can happen from spinal anesthesia are: infection, nerve damage, bleeding, systemic toxicity, spinal injury, paralysis (partial or total), heart attack, breathing problems / respiratory arrest, allergic reaction, convulsions, coma, and even death. 

Serious complications of an epidural are those listed above in addition to drastic alterations at which birthing labor can proceed, blood pressure decrease for mother and child which could lead to respiratory difficulty or failure in one or both, pain (if a patients body type rejects the anesthetic), post-partum hemorrhaging, and long term backache.

Possible spinal anesthetization errors or negligence by the anesthesiologist:

  • Wrong anesthetic for type of procedure or surgery
  • Poor administration of anesthesia resulting in site infection or nerve or spinal damage at site (the "safe" space the needle can occupy is infinitesimally small so the tiniest miscalculation can mean paralysis or death)
  • Misjudging how the patient's age affects their ability to handle an anesthetic
  • Miscalculation of the amount of anesthesia to administer to patient
  • Allergic reaction results with known, disclosed drug allergies (patient history was not reviewed) 
  • Adverse anesthetic interactions (contraindications) with known prescriptions patient was taking or drugs given concurrently with anesthetic (such as vasoconstrictors). 
  • Patients current health and history overall were not adequately assessed (risks of adverse anesthetic effects increase with heart and circulatory conditions, nervous system problems, or drug and/or alcohol use) 
  • Improper monitoring of patient before, during, and after anesthetic administration (keeping vigilant watch on the patients' - often a mother and child - heart rate and rhythms, blood pressure, breathing, blood oxygen levels, body temperature, and so on)
  • Performing procedures not qualified for

If an injury or death of a loved one resulted from the negligence or error of an anesthesiologist, you could be eligible for damages.

Please contact the Sweeney Law Firm. Let our medical experts review the facts to determine if you have a medical malpractice case. The Sweeney Law Firm reviews possible spinal anesthetization medical malpractice cases at no charge, and works on a contingency fee basis. There is no cost for representation unless there is a cash recovery for you.