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A recent Journal of Healthcare Risk Management study reported a decline in deaths related to anesthesia errors.

Anesthesia involves the administration of drugs to reduce and prevent pain during surgery.  Depending on the type of anesthesia given, patients may be sedated during the surgery or they may remain awake while the surgical site is numbed.

Medical Daily warns that while anesthesia-related deaths have decreased, patients are still at risk for complications.  Taking proper precaution can reduce the risk of anesthesia errors.

Almost 80 percent of anesthesia-related complaints were filed by patients who were informed of the potential complications prior to surgery but were not able to correlate the injuries to that information. Before consenting to anesthesia, patients should be sure they fully understand the risks and potential injuries that may occur due to anesthesia.

The study found that ignoring or disabling auditory alarms may result in failure to respond to a patient’s deteriorating vital signs during surgery. Alarms function as signals for life-threatening situations for patients undergoing surgery, according to Wiley Online Library.

Patients must accurately disclose to the anesthesia team their medical history so the anesthesiologist can formulate the proper dosage. Improper pre-operative assessment of the patient’s health accounted for 15 percent of anesthesia-related medical malpractice lawsuits, the study suggests. Properly identifying conditions such as sleep apnea, seizure activity, allergies, and previous reactions to anesthetics can decrease the risk of anesthesia errors.

Darrel Ranum, co-author of the study, believes the research is an important guide for hospitals and doctors to promote patient safety.

Candid discussions between the patient and the surgical team involving potential anesthesia errors and health factors that may affect anesthesia should always take place before surgery.

Failing to take the proper pre-operative precautions is grounds for medical malpractice.  Patients who suffered serious injuries because of a doctor’s negligence should contact a medical malpractice lawyer to preserve their legal rights.

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