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Anesthesia Error

San Francisco Anesthesia Error Attorney

Call if You Were Injured by an Anesthesia Mistake in California: (888) 831-8448

Anesthesia is a valuable tool for medical professionals, but it has considerable risks which must be appropriately managed. If anesthesiologists, physicians, or other health care providers make mistakes when administering anesthesia, the consequences can be devastating.

If you or a loved one were harmed due to an anesthesia error, you may have been a victim of negligence. By filing a medical malpractice claim, you can seek financial compensation for your damages.

Bostwick & Peterson, LLP is a U.S. News “Best Law Firms Tier 1 law firm that has won record results for medical negligence victims. Our San Francisco lawyers can review your anesthesia error lawsuit and discuss your options.

Why Choose Bostwick & Peterson, LLP?

Bostwick & Peterson is trusted by colleagues and clients nationwide. Here are a few reasons why:

  • Over $1 billion in compensation recovered for clients, including numerous million and multi-million results in medical negligence cases.
  • Record-setting verdicts and settlements in four states, including the largest medical malpractice recovery in California history ($17M settlement for a brain-injured baby).
  • Nationally renowned trial lawyers included in The Best Lawyers in America, Super Lawyers, Inner Circle of Advocates, and more.
  • Specialized experienced from a Medical Malpractice Specialist certified by the American Board of Professional Liability Attorneys (James S. Bostwick).

What is Anesthesia?

Anesthesia is a medical practice used to induce a reversible loss of sensation or consciousness in a patient to facilitate medical procedures, such as surgery, invasive diagnostic procedures, or painful treatments. It ensures that patients do not feel pain or discomfort during these procedures while also allowing surgeons and medical professionals to perform their work effectively.

Common types of anesthesia include:

  • General Anesthesia: This type induces a state of unconsciousness and loss of sensation throughout the entire body. It is typically administered through inhalation (breathing in gases) or intravenously (injection into a vein). Patients under general anesthesia are completely unconscious and unaware of their surroundings.
  • Regional Anesthesia: Unlike general anesthesia, regional anesthesia blocks sensation to a specific part of the body while the patient remains conscious. There are several types of regional anesthesia, including:
    • Spinal Anesthesia: An anesthetic agent is injected into the spinal canal to numb the lower half of the body. It's commonly used for lower abdominal, pelvic, and lower extremity surgeries.
    • Epidural Anesthesia: Similar to spinal anesthesia, but the anesthetic agent is injected into the epidural space surrounding the spinal cord rather than directly into the spinal canal. It's often used during childbirth and for pain relief during labor, as well as for surgeries involving the lower body.
    • Nerve Blocks: Local anesthetic is injected near a cluster of nerves, blocking sensation to a specific part of the body supplied by those nerves. Nerve blocks can be used for various procedures, including surgeries on limbs and for pain management.
  • Local Anesthesia: This type numbs a small, specific area of the body where the procedure is being performed. It is commonly administered through injections or topical applications. Local anesthesia is often used for minor procedures, such as dental work, skin biopsies, or suturing small wounds.

Types of Anesthesia Errors

Anesthesia is used widely across many medical settings – from hospitals and emergency departments to outpatient facilities and doctor’s offices. Wherever anesthesia is administered, treating providers – including anesthesiologists and certified nurse anesthetists (CRNA) – are obligated to meet the accepted standards of their profession.

Unfortunately, specialists and medical professionals can make devastating mistakes. Some examples of anesthesia malpractice:

  • Improper dose: Errors involving the amount of anesthesia given to a patient can cause severe injury or death. This includes too much or not enough anesthesia, or the wrong type.
  • Failure to treat complications: Providers should be prepared to promptly react in the event of complications or adverse reactions, and may be held liable for injuries caused by failures to diagnose or recognize complications and delays or failures to treat.
  • Failure to monitor: Patients under anesthesia should be appropriately monitored for signs of distress and oxygen deprivation. Failure to adequately monitor may result in liability.
  • Coordinated care errors: Anesthesia administration commonly requires coordination between multiple specialists, providers, and administrators. Communication errors and mistakes involving patient intake, hand-off, or informed consent can have major consequences.
  • Defective products: Companies responsible for defectively designed or manufactured anesthesia machines can be held liable for preventable injuries under product liability.

Errors involving anesthesia can increase risks of serious and fatal injuries involving:

  • Intubation errors and airway trauma
  • Oxygen deprivation and brain damage
  • Blood clots and heart attack
  • Stroke injuries
  • Anaphylaxis (allergic reaction)
  • Paralysis and nerve damage
  • Coma or wrongful death
  • Regaining consciousness during procedure (anesthesia awareness)

These injuries can result from the negligent acts of administering too much or too little anesthesia, reducing anesthesia before completion of the surgery, neglecting to give patient enough oxygen, or by administering an anesthetic to which the patient is allergic. A talented lawyer from our team can help address the legal issues surrounding the errors that may have occurred in your case.

Proving Liability for an Anesthesia Error

To hold an anesthesiologist liable for medical malpractice in California, you generally need to prove certain elements, such as:

  1. Duty of Care: The first element to establish is that the anesthesiologist owed a duty of care to the patient. In medical malpractice cases, this duty is typically established by demonstrating that a doctor-patient relationship existed between the anesthesiologist and the patient.
  2. Breach of Duty: You must show that the anesthesiologist breached the duty of care owed to the patient. This means demonstrating that the anesthesiologist failed to provide treatment that met the standard of care expected from a reasonably competent anesthesiologist under similar circumstances. In California, the standard of care is generally defined as the level of care and skill that a reasonably prudent anesthesiologist in the same field of practice would have provided under similar circumstances.
  3. Causation: You need to establish that the anesthesiologist's breach of duty was the proximate cause of the patient's injuries or damages. This means showing that the patient's injuries would not have occurred "but for" the anesthesiologist's negligence. It must be demonstrated that the negligence directly led to the harm suffered by the patient.
  4. Damages: Finally, you must prove that the patient suffered damages as a result of the anesthesiologist's negligence. These damages can include physical injuries, emotional distress, medical expenses, loss of income, and other losses resulting from the malpractice.

In California, medical malpractice claims, including those against anesthesiologists, are subject to specific procedural requirements and statutory limitations. For example, California law requires that before filing a medical malpractice lawsuit, the plaintiff must provide the defendant with a 90-day notice of intent to sue, allowing for an opportunity to resolve the claim without litigation.

Additionally, California has a statute of limitations for medical malpractice claims, which generally requires that a lawsuit be filed within three years from the date of injury or one year from the date the injury was discovered or should have been discovered, whichever occurs first. There are exceptions and nuances to these rules, so consulting with a qualified attorney who specializes in medical malpractice law in California is advisable if you believe you have a claim against an anesthesiologist.

A Legacy of Proven Results

Our attorneys have obtained millions in compensation for victims of medical negligence, as well as numerous record recoveries in complex malpractice and birth injury claims.

Examples of our results:

  • $17 Million settlement over providers’ failure to treat routine maternal infection during pregnancy, resulting in brain injury to the baby. This is the largest medical malpractice recovery in California history (2019).
  • $14 Million recovery for a 3-day-old baby who suffered brain injury due to a laparoscopic surgical error at a major California university hospital. At the time, this was the largest medical malpractice settlement in California (2018).
  • $8 Million settlement over poor anesthetic technique during a knee operation, resulting in brain injury to a 16-year-old patient. This was a record recovery in Oklahoma at the time (1985).
  • $7.76 Million for a child rendered partially blind, partially paralyzed, and brain damaged from cardiac arrest due to an anesthesia machine malfunction during surgery. This was the largest product liability settlement for an ambulatory brain-injured child in California at the time.

Request a Free Review of Your Anesthesia Malpractice Case

Anesthesiologists and medical professional are required to meet their duty of care when treating patients. This means exercising the skill, knowledge, and care that other reasonably careful specialists and providers would use in the same or similar circumstances.

When providers fail to meet the standard of care and patients suffer preventable harm, there may be grounds for a medical malpractice lawsuit.

As one of California’s leading medical malpractice firms, Bostwick & Peterson knows the importance of holding providers accountable for negligence and recovering the compensation victims need.

If you have questions about an anesthesia malpractice case and how our San Francisco lawyers may be able to help, contact us for a FREE consultation.



What Sets Bostwick & Peterson, LLP Apart?

  • More than $1 billion recovered for our clients
  • Since January 2018, the firm has twice broken the California record for the largest medical malpractice settlement
  • James Bostwick was named Trial Lawyer of the Year by Best Lawyers® in 2012
  • James Bostwick is a Nationally Certified Specialist by the American Board of Professional Liability
  • Included in the list of "Best Lawyers in America" by U.S. News - Best Lawyers® since its inception in 1983
  • James Bostwick received the Trial Lawyers "Presidential Award of Merit"
  • James Bostwick is a member of the Inner Circle of Advocates, limited to the nation’s top 100 plaintiff lawyers
  • Record-setting verdicts and settlements in five states for medical malpractice and motor vehicle accidents
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