Anesthesia Errors

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The purpose of Anesthesia medications is to prepare patients for surgery by:
  • Preventing pain
  • Decreasing stress
  • Inducing amnesia
  • Prevent muscle movement during surgery


  • General Anesthesia is when a patient is unconscious and has no awareness or sensation. During general anesthesia, the patient may receive anesthetic gases given through a mask or may be given medication given through the IV to induce sleep, relax muscles, and treat pain.
  • Regional Anesthesia prevents pain by causing numbness. Regional anesthesia completely blocks sensation in the area of the body that requires surgery. The anesthesiologist will inject local anesthesia (numbing medication) near the cluster of nerves that provides sensation to that area.
  • Sedation or Monitored Anesthesia is what people have often referred to in the past as “twilight”. Medications are given, usually through an IV, to make the patient feel drowsy and relaxed. Different levels of sedation are possible, depending on the type of procedure and the patient’s preference.
  • Local Anesthesia Is the term used for medication such as lidocaine that is injected through a needle or applied as a cream to numb a small area. Local anesthesia alone may provide enough pain relief for limited procedures such as sewing up a deep cut or filling dental cavities. It is often used along with sedation during minor outpatient surgery.

When Anesthesia is negligently administered, it can be extremely deadly to the patient:

  • 87% of anesthesia deaths are due to human error
  • More than half of anesthesia errors occur at the time the anesthesia is being administered
  • Prescription errors account for 17% of anesthesia errors
  • Negligent transcription account for 11% of anesthesia errors
  • Patients over 50 years old are more likely to suffer more serious injury due to anesthesia complications

Anesthesia Errors happen due to: 

  • Administering anesthesia at the wrong spinal level
  • Negligently administering anesthesia into the spinal cord
  • Anesthesia overdose
  • Administering the wrong drug
  • Inadequate monitoring
  • Failure to prevent drug interactions
  • Allergic reactions
  • Improper patient instructions prior to the procedure
  • Failure to provide sufficient oxygen during surgery
  • Defective medical equipment

Anesthesia Errors can cause:

  • Heart arrhythmia
  • Heart function problems
  • Cardiovascular collapse
  • Blood pressure complications
  • Spinal cord injury/paralysis
  • Vein/artery/nerve damage
  • Inadequate oxygen supply
  • Birth defects to a baby during delivery
  • Brain/organ damage
  • Seizures/stroke
  • Coma
  • Death