How Medical Sedation Can Go Wrong

Excessive Medical SedationWhen thinking of medical sedation, we may think that there is awake, and there is unconscious. While this may be the case for some procedures, there are often levels of sedation in between, and they all require a practiced and focused eye so that the patient’s health is not put in danger. Medical sedation is a common practice used to alleviate pain and anxiety in various medical procedures. While sedation can be beneficial, there is also the potential for medical malpractice to occur in these situations. When medical professionals make mistakes, the consequences can be life-changing. If you believe a healthcare professional has caused you harm through their negligence, it is important to contact an experienced medical malpractice attorney.

What are the levels of sedation?

Medical sedation involves administering medications to induce a state of relaxation, unconsciousness, or partial consciousness. To sedate patients, an anesthesiologist will administer anesthetics, which are “medicines to prevent pain during surgery and other procedures.”

According to MedMalConfidential, there are five levels of sedation caused by the administration of anesthetics. These levels include:

  1. Unsedated.
  2. Minimal sedation (anxiolysis): The patient is actively responsive to verbal stimuli.
  3. Moderate sedation/analgesia (conscious sedation): The patient has a purposeful response to verbal stimuli.
  4. Deep sedation/analgesia: Purposeful response is triggered by painful stimuli.
  5. General anesthesia: The patient is unresponsive even to painful stimuli.

While a patient is sedated, four clinical factors should be constantly monitored:

  • Responsiveness
  • Airway
  • Spontaneous ventilation
  • Cardiovascular function

Medical malpractice related to sedation can arise due to various factors. Improper administration of sedatives, inadequate monitoring during the procedure, failure to assess the patient’s medical history and potential risks, or using incorrect dosages can all lead to serious complications or harm.

What are the risks of medical sedation?

Medical sedation, while generally considered safe when administered by trained professionals, carries certain risks and potential complications. The specific risks can vary depending on the type of sedation used, the patient’s health condition, and the nature of the medical procedure.

Some common risks associated with medical sedation include:

  • Adverse reactions. Sedation medications can cause allergic reactions or unexpected side effects in some individuals. These reactions can range from mild discomfort to severe complications such as difficulty breathing, rapid heartbeat, or changes in blood pressure.
  • Respiratory depression. Sedation medications can suppress the respiratory system, leading to slowed or shallow breathing. In some cases, this can result in inadequate oxygen levels in the blood, leading to complications or even respiratory failure if not properly monitored and managed.
  • Cardiovascular complications. Certain sedatives can affect heart function and blood pressure. Individuals with pre-existing cardiovascular conditions may be at a higher risk of experiencing complications such as irregular heart rhythms, low blood pressure, or heart attack during or after sedation. Low blood pressure can mean that not enough blood is getting to such organs as the brain, heart, bowels, and kidney. This can lead to a stroke, a heart attack, dead bowels, and kidney disease. This type of low blood pressure is treatable and preventable. It should be noted that “lack of timely and successful blood pressure intervention constitutes a breach in standard of care.”
  • Aspiration. Sedation can impair the protective reflexes that prevent food or liquid from entering the lungs. This increases the risk of aspiration, where stomach contents can be inhaled into the lungs, potentially causing lung infection or damage.
  • Delayed recovery or prolonged sedation. In some cases, individuals may have a slower recovery from sedation, experiencing grogginess, dizziness, or confusion for a longer period than expected. Prolonged sedation can increase the risk of complications and may require additional monitoring and medical intervention.
  • Medication errors. Errors in medication dosage or administration can occur, leading to inadequate sedation or excessive sedation, both of which can pose risks to the patient’s safety and well-being.

It’s important to note that the risks associated with medical sedation are typically minimized through careful patient assessment, appropriate medication selection and dosing, monitoring during the procedure, and the presence of trained healthcare professionals. The level of risk can also vary depending on the patient’s overall health, age, and specific medical conditions. Healthcare providers should thoroughly evaluate the patient’s medical history and take necessary precautions to mitigate risks and ensure a safe sedation experience.

Medical malpractice and sedation in Kentucky

Receiving anesthesia for sedation requires medical professionals who know how to both closely monitor a patient and alter the levels of sedation throughout the procedures, and how to rescue a patient from oversedation. Unfortunately, too often it is the case that one or both of these requirements are not met effectively. To establish a medical malpractice claim related to sedation, it is important to demonstrate that the healthcare provider deviated from the standard of care expected in such situations. This involves showing that a competent medical professional under similar circumstances would have acted differently, resulting in a better outcome.

The standard of care for Kentucky is everchanging with the advancement of medicine. This is why we retain experts to testify to the standard of care and deviations from it.

How can a Kentucky medical malpractice attorney help me?

If a patient suffers harm or complications due to negligent sedation practices, they are entitled to compensation for medical expenses, pain and suffering, lost wages, and other damages. Consulting with an experienced medical malpractice attorney can help evaluate the circumstances, gather evidence, and pursue a legal claim to seek appropriate compensation for the harm suffered.

It is important to note that laws regarding medical malpractice and sedation may vary by jurisdiction, and specific requirements must be met to establish a valid claim. Therefore, seeking legal advice from a qualified professional familiar with the laws in your jurisdiction is crucial in such cases.

Contact our skilled malpractice attorneys today

If you believe you have suffered harm from oversedation or negligence during anesthesia, call Wilt Injury Lawyers today. We specialize in medical malpractice lawsuits including injuries sustained during sedation, and have secured millions in settlements for our clients. Injuries caused by negligence to medical sedation you underwent can lead to a lifetime of financial burdens and medical complications; you shouldn’t have to worry about those costs; you should be able to focus solely on healing and therapy. Let us help. To schedule a free consultation, please call us or fill out our contact form. We maintain offices in Lexington and Louisville, and proudly serve clients throughout Kentucky.