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Man dies of anesthetic reaction as no doctor could be found

The administration of anesthesia can result in all sorts of errors including brain trauma, and Pittsburgh hospitals must always take care during any surgery to insure brain injury or death does not occur. Many such errors were preventable if instructions and procedures were in place for emergency staff that could easily have been understood and followed.

Some anesthesiologists have now found themselves being sued because such protocol was not in place and this likely led to the death of a 20-year old patient. No physician was on hand when the anesthesia was given and when the patient went into anaphylactic shock no physician could be located until after considerable delay. The patient was deprived of oxygen during the delay, suffered significant brain damage and died a few days after the anesthesia was administered.

The on-call physician was in surgery with another patient at the time the reaction to the anesthetic took place. The backup physician, who did immediately respond when finally summoned, was not informed of the problem until several minutes later. This patient died because the medical center did not have a physician on hand for when this emergency occurred.

Without a written policy to address such emergencies, it's not difficult to see how patients could die due to medical neglect. Reactions to anesthesia do occur and doctors need to be available to prevent the reaction from turning much worse. As it was, no medical personnel were available to help this patient breathe.

Such circumstances are why clients retain attorneys for medical malpractice claims. A 20-year old man dying during oral surgery is anything but a frivolous claim. Besides providing compensation for victims of medical malpractice, such lawsuits also put the providers on notice that safety and emergency procedures need to be implemented and followed.

Source: Outpatient Surgery, "Should Anesthesiology Group Have Reached Dying Patient Sooner?" by Leigh Page, Feb. 27, 2012

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