Anaesthetic Negligence Solicitors - Medical Compensation Claim Lawyers
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Anaesthetic Error Medical Overview
Anaesthesia is divided into local, regional and general anesthesia. All types of anesthesia work to numb or anesthetize the body in parts or in whole so that surgery can be done without pain or discomfort for the person having surgery to the body. Each type of anaesthesia carries its own risks, which fortunately are rare.
Regional and local anaesthesia carry similar risks. Regional anaesthesia involves injecting a major proximal nerve that sends anaesthetic signals to a wide range of the body, such as the entire lower arm or leg for foot and hand surgery. The major side effects can involve injection of the xylocaine (anaesthetic) into an artery or vein sending it into the body's blood stream unnecessarily and damage to the nerve being numbed, which can be permanent or semi-permanent. The same is true on a smaller scale with local anaesthesia. Local anaesthesia also uses xylocaine as a local anaesthetic injected directly into the area of the injury. You can get systemic anaesthesia toxicity if the anaesthetic gets injected into the bloodstream.
Regional anaesthesia also constitutes epidural and spinal anaesthesia. Systemic toxicity is possible with these types of anesthesia. You can also get heart complications, lung complications, infection, local swelling, and bruising at the site of injection. A headache is a common complication of spinal anaesthesia because the spinal anaesthetic creates a hole in the dura such that cerebrospinal fluid leaks up and causes a lack of CSF around the brain and resultant headache. The treatment is to put a blood patch on the leak to stop the leakage and allow the dura to heal.
General anaesthesia involves the use of anaesthetic injectable medications along with inhaled anaesthetic gases. There are more complications from this type of anaesthesia than with local or regional anaesthesia. The risks you face depend on your age, your health and your personal response to anaesthesia. Some medical conditions, such as heart disease, circulatory disease or nervous system disease will increase your risk of getting complications of general anaesthesia. Certain medications you take can increase the risk of getting complications of general anaesthesia. Make sure your doctor knows everything you are taking. Even smoking, alcohol consumption or the use of illicit drugs can contribute to side effects from anaesthesia.
General anaesthesia can cause you to have a lack of a gag reflux so that, until a tracheostomy tube is placed in the airway, you can aspirate secretions or vomitus. This can result in a chemical or bacterial pneumonia. Aspiration is uncommon but can happen with deadly consequences. This is why people are asked not to eat or drink prior to surgery for several hours before surgery. Anaesthesiologists use special techniques in intubation to block the chances of aspiration.
Coughing, muscle spasms in the voice box and gagging can happen during removal or insertion of the endotracheal tube. Laryngospasm or bronchospasm can occur in response to the airway so that the person can't get enough airflow through the airway. Blood pressure and heart rate can increase during the insertion of the airway and teeth and lips can be damaged. Teeth can be broken and you can have a sore throat or hoarseness for a number of days.
General anaesthesia can lead to rhythm problems of the heart, stroke, or to damage to the heart in the form of a heart attack. About one in 200,000 people actually die from general anaesthesia, even if they were healthy before the anaesthesia-related death.
There is a rare but life threatening condition associated with general anaesthesia called malignant hyperthermia. This is usually associated with the inhaled anaesthetics and with succinylcholine-a muscle relaxant. It results in a severe rise in temperature in the operating room which can fry the brain and do the ultimate damage in the form of death to body tissues and the entire body.