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Report Released on Anesthesia-Related Medical Malpractice Claims

A study was released by the Journal of Healthcare Risk Management that focused on closed anesthesia medical malpractice claims experienced by one of the country’s largest physician owned, medical malpractice insurance companies. It looked at a variety of factors, including the types of medical malpractice claims made, the types of medical facilities where the claims originated, and the reasons behind the claims.

Anesthesia Medical Malpractice Study

Entitled “Analysis of Patient Injury Based on Anesthesiology Closed Claims Data from a Major Malpractice Insurer,” the researchers looked at 607 anesthesia-related medical malpractice claims that were reported to The Doctors Company. This insurer has over 75,000 members and reported assets of $4.3 billion.

Types of Anesthesia Medical Malpractice Claims

The study found that the most frequently identified contributing cause to anesthesia medical malpractice claims was the obesity of the patient, but the types of claims varied for anesthesia-related injuries. The most frequent injuries reported in the study included:

  • Damage to the teeth (20.8%)
  • Death of the patient (18.3%)
  • Damage to nerves (13.5%)
  • Organ damage (12.7%)
  • Pain and suffering (10.9%)
  • Cardiopulmonary arrest (10.7%)

Fewer claims for anesthesia-related medical malpractice claims arose from smaller hospitals and medical facilities; however, the smaller hospitals also had a higher rate of nerve damage and mortality. According to the study, ambulatory surgery centers had the lowest death-to-claim rate at twelve percent.

Causes of Anesthesia Claims

The report found that over eighty percent of the anesthesia-related claims studied were a result of complications that had been explained to the patient before the procedure. However, claimants may not have had sufficient clinical knowledge to associate those risks with the injuries that occurred.

In another fifteen percent of the claims, inadequate preoperative assessments were identified as the root cause. This included getting a patient’s full medical history that could help identify potential issues like sleep apnea, seizures, past problems with intubation, allergies, and results of any prior lab tests. These things all help doctors make a proper anesthesia treatment plan for the patient and can reduce the number of medical malpractice claims.

Results of the Study

One of the researchers in the study suggested that the results show how important it is for doctors to communicate with their patients about the potential outcomes for their care when anesthesia is involved and to have informed consent discussions about potential complications. This will allow the patients to have a better understanding of the cause of their injury and be less likely to point the finger at substandard care. At the same time, the claim could stem from medical negligence on the part of the treating physician and not simple bad luck with a known risk.

Contact a West Palm Beach Attorney

If you or someone that you know has been injured by anesthesia in a medical operation in the West Palm Beach area, let the experienced medical malpractice attorneys at Gary Roberts & Associates help. Call or contact the office today for a free and confidential consultation of your case.

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