Anesthesia requires a delicate balance. Anesthesiologists must ensure the patient is unconscious during surgery while making sure he or she is getting proper oxygen and blood flow. Since there is so little room for error, anesthesiologists and other medical staff must follow strict protocols when administering general, local, spinal and regional anesthesia during childbirth/delivery.
When they fail to provide adequate treatment, patients can suffer life-changing injuries and even wrongful death. This is especially true when administering epidurals. Even a minor deviation from the correct procedure can cause life-altering injuries to the mother or child.
At The Becker Law Firm, we provide compassionate representation to people who have suffered due to anesthesia errors at hospitals and other medical facilities. Our Cleveland epidural injury lawyers are prepared to pursue full and fair compensation for the losses you have suffered.
Contact The Becker Law Firm today at (440) 252-4399 to schedule your free initial consultation with our epidural injury attorneys in Ohio.
Anesthesia Options for Expectant Mothers
Some women choose a natural childbirth without medication. Women can choose this option whether they opt for childbirth in a hospital setting, or with a midwife at a birth center.
Sedatives or narcotics can be used early in the labor to minimize pain and relax the expectant mother. Drugs used often include fentanyl, morphine sulfate, and Demerol. Complications can include respiratory depression and increased risk of aspiration with the baby.
These drugs should not be given close in time to the expected delivery.
Another option is a pudendal block. Anesthetic, usually similar to lidocaine, is injected into the pudendal nerve. This procedure is often used when delivery occurs by forceps or vacuum; it is also used just before an episiotomy. It is usually given during the second stage of labor, just before delivery. There is some risk that the anesthetic can cross the placenta and travel to the baby.
Local anesthesia is used for patients, who did not use anesthesia for the delivery, who require an episiotomy (repair of vaginal tears from childbirth).
Epidurals are used to limit the amount of pain associated with childbirth. It is usually administered during the active phase of labor and is inserted into the space between L3 and L4 in the spine (in the lower back). The amount of medication can be increased if a cesarean delivery is required.
Anesthesiologists are taught to perform epidurals by a process known as “The Four P’s.” These are preparation (the doctor must use the correct needle and type/dose of medicine), position (the patient must be properly positioned—for a woman in labor, usually on her side), projection (the needle must be properly placed at the expected insertion point) and puncture (the needle must penetrate the spinal column without entering the spinal sac).
If not properly performed, the mother can suffer from the following epidural injuries:
- Nerve damage
- Cardiac arrest
- Difficulty breathing
- Wrongful death
Additionally, errors can cause injuries to the baby, including:
Lastly, general and spinal anesthesia are often used for cesarean deliveries. One complication linked to spinal anesthesia is low maternal blood pressure, which can cause low heart rate in the baby. General anesthesia is more frequently used for emergency cesarean deliveries. The risks include placental abruption, low heart rate for the baby, umbilical cord prolapse, uterine rupture, and placenta previa.
Types of Anesthesia Errors
Anesthesia errors can occur in a number of settings, but they are most common in the operating room.
Examples of anesthesia malpractice include:
- General anesthesia errors resulting in lack of oxygen to the brain
- Errors in administering spinal or epidural anesthesia
- Nerve damage caused by the anesthesiologist inserting the needle directly into the nerve
- Intubation (breathing tube) injuries
- Allergic reactions to anesthetic drugs
- Administering the wrong drug or the wrong dosage
Anesthesia injuries often result in serious injuries, including brain damage and wrongful death. If your injury or your loved one’s injury was caused by anesthesia malpractice, our Ohio anesthesia error attorneys are here to help you pursue compensation for your losses.