Medical Mistakes and Anesthesiology Malpractice
Surgery, even something considered relatively minor, has its risks, and arguably chief among these is going under anesthesia. It is very easy for even a trained professional to err in administration of anesthesia or in noticing potential problems with a chosen anesthetic. This does not mean, however, that every mistake on the part of an anesthesiologist is tantamount to malpractice. If you or a loved one have suffered an injury as a result of problems with anesthesia, it is pivotal to understand your options, so as not to waste your time or a court’s.Statistics and Information on Anesthesiology
There are a number of myths propagated around anesthesiology and anesthesiologists that may influence people's’ decision on whether or not to bring suit in case of harm suffered. For example, many media outlets still report that malpractice insurance premiums for anesthesiologists are among the highest. While this is generally accurate, it does not translate into higher amounts of claims paid on behalf of anesthesiologists; studies show general surgeons to have a higher payout rate, and the most overall claims paid were in obstetrics and gynecology.
These kinds of facts can affect plaintiffs’ perceptions of just how feasible (or not) it may be to bring suit against an anesthesiologist after they have suffered harm. For example, if a plaintiff believes an anesthesiologist to carry significant amounts of insurance, they may be more likely to pursue a weak case than they otherwise might. It is imperative to truly understand the reality of the situation before making a decision.Errors are Common
In addition to misconceptions about insurance and claim rates, it would likely surprise most people to know that anesthesiologists make many more mistakes than are disclosed to patients. In theory, every error should be disclosed, but in practice, only those which cause lasting harm are usually shared with the family. Still, the frequency of miscalculation shows that errors can happen without causing immediate damage - to allege malpractice over an error that caused no harm is generally seen to be a waste of time for all involved.
A doctor’s conduct is most likely to be held to be malpractice if it can be shown that they breached the standard of care owed by every medical professional to their patients. In truth, no mistake may be required for conduct to reach the level of medical malpractice. In California, four criteria must be shown in order for a judge or jury to conclude that malpractice has occurred:
- The existence of a duty of care, which is established by California law;
- An evident breach of that duty;
- A showing that the defendant’s conduct was the direct cause of any harm the plaintiff suffered; and
- Tangible harm done to the plaintiff.
The harm does not require physical injuries, but some kind of alteration of your normal state that lasts a significant time. For example, diagnosed post-traumatic stress disorder would be considered harm. None of these criteria mandate that an actual error must happen - merely conduct not up to standard. The distinction is a fine one, but important.Consult an Anesthesia Malpractice Lawyer
If you have done your due diligence, and you want to explore the possibility of bringing suit against an anesthesiologist, a knowledgeable attorney can be a lifesaver. The dedicated San Jose anesthesia malpractice lawyers at Corsiglia, McMahon & Allard, L.L.P. understand that lawsuits are complex and drawn out, and we will do our best to help you understand what one truly entails. Contact us today to set up an appointment; we serve San Jose, the Bay Area, and the counties of Monterey, Alameda, San Mateo, Santa Clara and San Benito.Sources