Anesthesia Malpractice a Concern
While anesthesia malpractice is not as common as other medical errors, it does still happen with devastating consequences.
We don't often read about cases of anesthesia malpractice, but they do happen and may result in the death of someone undergoing surgery. For
example in a Florida medical malpractice suit, an 18-year old girl died as a result of malignant hyperthermia. The plastic surgeon and anesthesiologist
performing the operation on an out-patient basis were the defendants in the lawsuit.
The lawsuit alleged that the surgeon and anesthesiologist failed to meet acceptable medical standards when she had a life threatening reaction to the
anesthesia administered for breast surgery. The case hinged on the fact that the doctors failed to recognize a reaction to the anesthesia and because
they missed the signs of this deadly reaction, they didn't give the proper treatment to save her life.
This patient survived long enough to be transferred to another medical facility where she succumbed to hyperthermia. Malignant hyperthermia is
inherited and only one parent needs to be carrying the gene for a child to inherit it. It causes a rapid rise in body temperatures and severe muscle
contractions as a result of receiving anesthesia. Signs and symptoms include bleeding, dark brown urine, muscle rigidity and aching, and a very fast
rise in temperature to 105 degrees F or higher.
The Florida lawsuit alleged the doctors could have treated the patient with intravenous Dantrolene sodium (muscle relaxant) had they paid attention to
the patient after surgery. Dantrolene sodium was given later at another medical facility, but it was too late.
At the root of this case is the contention that the doctors did not follow accepted medical practices in monitoring their patient, and as a result of that
negligence, caused her death. If they had been paying attention and were capable of identifying malignant hyperthermia, the patient would still be alive
today. Evidently, recognized medical standards were