Preventing Anesthesia Injuries: What Patients Can do

anesthesia-injury-pic-23-300x295Anesthesia injuries occur due to several factors, many of which are beyond the control of the patient. However, that does not mean that a patient should not take simple and basic steps to prevent injuries and errors. If you are scheduled to undergo surgery utilizing general anesthesia, there are steps you can take to ensure the anesthesia safer for you.

First, obey your doctor’s instructions. When you are administered general anesthesia, the digestive muscles that are responsible for preventing food and stomach acids from leaking into your lungs are relaxed. In a situation like this, regurgitation or vomiting is a real risk. There is also a very strong risk of choking or suffocation.  This is the reason why your surgeon will advise that you avoid drinking or eating food before being administered anesthesia. Typically, you must avoid food at least six hours before your surgery. You may be allowed to drink water; however, it is necessary to clear this also with your doctor.  

You may be required to continue taking your medications until a few hours before the surgery. Try to take your medication with very little water. Discuss any medication use before for the surgery with your doctor.

Be aware that there are certain types of medications that a surgeon will advise you to avoid for at least a week before the surgery. These might include blood thinners, anticoagulants, and even painkilling medications like aspirin. If the doctor advises you against taking certain types of medicines, avoid taking these and make sure you inform your doctor if you did take them.

Herbal supplements may also be suspect. If you are using any other kind of herbal supplements, make sure that your doctor knows about this. Certain multivitamins and herbal supplements can cause complications when a person is under anesthesia. 

If you suffer from any kind of sleep disorder, like sleep apnea, inform your surgeon about this before going under anesthesia. Sleep apnea is a condition in which a person suffers from disturbed sleep, because of the respiratory blockages during sleep. Patients who suffer from sleep apnea may have to be monitored extra carefully during the surgery in order to avoid complications.

Another factor that can increase the risk of an anesthesia related injury is smoking. If you smoke, the doctor may prescribe that you quit smoking several days before the surgery. Smoking can increase the risk of certain complications under anesthesia, so it is imperative that you follow your doctor’s advice.

Taking precautions and being a proactive patient can help avoid the kind of potentially fatal complications that sometimes arise when a person is under anesthesia. Certainly no all injuries that are a result of the use of anesthesia are related to the above factors. Too much anesthesia or the use of the wrong kind of anesthesia can also result in catastrophic injuries including brain damage or even death, despite a patient’s efforts to take all the necessary precautions.

If your loved one has suffered injuries as a result of anesthesia errors made before, during or after surgery, you could possibly be eligible for a claim for damages.  Speak with an Indiana medical malpractice lawyer at Montross Miller Muller Mendelson & Kennedy, LLP today. Call our office and schedule an appointment. Initial consultations are free.