After six months of constant pain and having to go to Inova for visit after visit to determine what was wrong, today you’re finally going to get surgery. However, although you’re excited about no longer being in pain, you’re also extremely nervous about the surgery itself. Since they have to open you up in order to remove your gall bladder, they want to give you a general anesthetic before the operation in order to knock you out completely. You’re worried because you’ve never had anesthesia and you’re not quite sure how you’ll react.
You know that it’s necessary but you’re still worried. Will you be safe? Could the anesthesia cause you more harm? What are your risks?
Anesthesia and Your Potential Risks
Anesthesia has come along way over the past 50 years. You no longer have to bite down on a stick, or throw back a few shots of whiskey to distract from the pain. Instead, modern medicine provides anesthesia that can be used to numb specific areas, or even put you to sleep so you don’t feel the pain of an operation.
General anesthesia (when you’re completely unconscious), regional anesthesia (where a specific area of your body is numbed), and local anesthesia (when a specific location on your body is numbed) are specifically designed to help you avoid pain and make the discomforts of surgery more bearable. However if a drug is given inappropriately or the anesthesiologist—the medical specialist who gives you the drug—makes a mistake, you could suffer serious complications. These include:
- Nausea and vomiting. When you receive too much anesthesia, you could have an adverse reaction that could upset your stomach.
- Delirium or temporary mental confusion. Too much of the drug can affect your brain and make you feel woozy or dazed—or even experience mental states similar to psychosis.
- Heart and blood pressure complications. If the anesthesiologist does not pay attention to your vital signs throughout the operation, and your blood pressure drastically begins to change, you could wind up suffering a severe heart attack.
- Tooth, mouth, and throat damage. When a breathing tube is improperly or forcefully placed within the throat, it can chip your teeth, scratch the inside of your mouth, and even cause swelling and irritation in your throat and larynx (voice box).
- Allergic reaction to the drug. Severe allergy to anesthesia drugs, called anaphylaxis in medical jargon—could lead to your throat swelling, your blood pressure plummeting, and extreme breathing difficulty, even with a breathing tube.
- Brain damage. If your throat swells, or you experience respiratory distress, your brain will not receive enough oxygen to maintain proper function. Brain damage is always a disastrous outcome, and the effects may be permanent.
- Extreme pain and psychological damage from anesthesia awareness. This occurs when you regain consciousness during the operation and can not only feel the pain of the surgery, but you can also sense yourself being cut open; however, the anesthesia drug prevents your reacting to alert the medical staff to your suffering.
- Death. Any one of these complications could potentially put your life in danger if not strictly monitored and checked.
What You Can Do When the Nightmare Becomes Reality
Surgery is extremely stressful and often scary, especially when you’re worried about problems with the anesthesia. Although your chances of having an allergic reaction or suffering an anesthesia complication is less than 1 percent, accidents do happen; and when they do, your life could be put in danger.
However, you can take comfort in knowing that you don’t have to go through it alone. If you believe that you’re a victim of an anesthesia complication, contact us immediately for a free consultation. We’ll be happy to review your case, discuss your claim options and provide support so you can get the justice you deserve. Call now!
Not sure you want or need a lawyer? Download our free malpractice report, Do I Have a Case? A Patient’s Guide to Virginia Medical Negligence Law. We want you to feel comfortable about your choice, so let us convince you that our experience and knowledge is what you need to get back on your feet. Download our report or contact us today to take your first step out of the nightmare that was your operation.