Undergoing surgery can be a stressful experience, even when you believe the operation is important for your physical health and quality of life. While you hope for the best, the unfortunate reality is that medical mistakes can happen. When that mistake is an anesthesia error, the consequences can be devastating.

Whether you received too much anesthesia, which can cause heart attack, stroke, and brain damage, or not enough anesthesia, causing the traumatic experience of awareness during your operation, you have the legal right to pursue accountability. Because medical malpractice laws can be complicated, you should consider working with an attorney with experience handling these types of cases. A Harrisburg anesthesia error lawyer can help you fight for the justice and compensation you deserve.

Anesthesia Errors and Negligence Laws

Medical malpractice lawsuits in Pennsylvania are based on negligence. However, medical negligence is based on a “standard of care” as opposed to the “duty of care” involved in other types of personal injury claims. As per 1996 Act 135 § 821A(b), medical negligence occurs when a medical provider acts against the acceptable standard of care owed to their patients, causing injuries as a result.

Some of the most common anesthesia errors that may constitute medical negligence include:

  • Giving the patient too much anesthesia, causing asphyxia, organ damage, coma, or death
  • Giving the patient too little anesthesia, causing them to remain or become conscious during the procedure
  • Giving the patient the wrong anesthesia, such as using a formula the patient is allergic to
  • Intubating the patient incorrectly, which can damage their larynx, lungs, and teeth

These mistakes may occur if the anesthesiologist did not read the patient’s chart prior to the procedure, was unreasonably careless while administering the anesthesia, or failed to monitor the patient appropriately during the surgery. However, not all medical mistakes can be traced to a negligent act. Part of proving negligence involves an expert’s testimony, as required by 1996 Act 135 § 811A(c). An anesthesia error attorney in Philadelphia can help patients build a strong case with support from medical experts showing that negligence caused their injuries.

Liability for Anesthesia Error Injuries

State law under 2002 Act 13 § 308(b) requires medical professionals to notify an injured patient or the patient’s designated representative of any mistakes made during the patient’s procedure. This notification must be in writing and provided within one week of the accident.

Per 2002 Act 13 § 505(b)(3), medical staff are liable for surgical injuries when they mislead the patient about the staff’s experience, knowledge of the procedure, or professional credentials. If the hospital or their other employees knew about and allowed someone’s negligent behavior, they may be vicariously liable for any damage caused.

Limitations on Anesthesia Error Lawsuits

Anesthesia error claims are subject to a two-year statute of limitations under 42 Pa. Code 42 § 5524(2), so an injured patient has two years from the date of the injury to file their lawsuit. Otherwise, the court may reject the case entirely. If the error was not immediately apparent at the time of the procedure, this deadline may be extended based on the date the injury was reasonably discovered.

Pennsylvania does not have a cap on compensatory damages for costs directly related to an accident. These costs may include present and future medical bills and lost wages from time taken off work to recover. Patients may also sue for pain and suffering, emotional distress, and other “noneconomic damages.”

Under 2002 Act 13 § 505(c), the court may also award punitive damages in extreme cases of neglect, recklessness, or intentional harm. When a medical professional’s egregious act leads to injuries, punitive damages are capped at 200 percent of the awarded compensatory amount. However, this cap may not apply if the injury was caused by purposeful and intentional misconduct.

Because malpractice laws are state-specific, a Harrisburg lawyer can identify the best course of legal action for someone affected by an anesthesia mistake.

Work With a Harrisburg Anesthesia Error Attorney

Negligent administration of anesthesia can cause traumatic, life-changing, or even fatal injuries. Whether you are an injured patient or a bereaved family member fighting on your loved one’s behalf, you do not have to go through these challenges alone. A Harrisburg anesthesia error lawyer can provide you with the support, knowledge, and experience to help improve the outcome of your medical malpractice case. Call Lowenthal & Abrams, Injury Attorneys, today for legal support.




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