Common Errors During the Administration of Anesthesia
Though the use of anesthesia can be tremendously beneficial to both patient and surgeon, it also carries the potential for serious health risk and even death. Whether general or local anesthesia, there's the potential for giving too much or too little of the anesthetic, as well as other risks.
Frequent Mistakes Made When Administering Anesthesia
There are many ways a person can be injured as a result of, or during the administration of, an anesthetic substance:
- The use of too much or too little anesthesia - Too little may not sufficiently deaden pain or immobilize the patient, causing risk of additional injury through movement or unnecessary pain. Too much can affect the patient's ability to breath or get oxygen to critical parts of the body, including the brain. The lack of oxygen, known as hypoxia, can cause short- or long-term interference with cognitive function, including permanent brain damage.
- Failure to properly intubate a patient — Often, when under sedation, a patient will have a tube inserted in the throat. If this is not properly done, the patient may suffer tooth damage or experience other health risks.
- Failure to monitor patient while under sedation — Medical professionals need to continually monitor anyone under any type of anesthesia to identify potential reactions, including changes in breathing or body function.
- Failure to identify and respond to complications — Nurses and doctors may be unaware of critical responses that need to be taken when a patient shows problems such as an allergic reaction or change in breathing. Failure to respond in a timely manner may lead to reduced levels of oxygen to the brain, causing cognitive dysfunction or even permanent brain damage.
- Failure to monitor oxygen levels of patient — The pulse oximeter may accidentally or intentionally be turned off, or medical professionals may otherwise neglect to monitor oxygen delivery. Because oxygen is an essential component of proper brain function, reduced levels of oxygen to the brain can cause short- or long-term cognitive dysfunction or permanent brain damage.
- Failure to provide proper pre-surgery instructions — Food and liquids in the body can compromise the effectiveness of anesthesia, causing the patient to become semi-conscious during surgery. That can pose risk of unwanted movement, leading to injury. Furthermore, a patient under anesthesia may involuntarily vomit (aspirate) during surgery. If there's food or liquid in the stomach, it can go into the lungs, damaging the lining. Accordingly, patients must be advised in advance about when to stop eating and drinking prior to surgery.