When patients are wheeled into the operating room, they place their lives in the hands of trusted surgical professionals. In addition to ensuring the right procedure is performed on the correct patient and confirming that no surgical instruments are left behind in the operating site, it is critical to make sure the patient is given the right anesthesia. Anesthesia errors can lead to permanent injuries, long-term complications and death. Patients may wake up in a paralyzed state during the operation or may fail to wake up once the procedure is finished if they are given the wrong dose of anesthesia.
Each patient responds differently to anesthesia, and as a result, should be monitored closely throughout the surgical procedure. Among other factors, the dose of medicine given is dependent on the patient’s weight. If the wrong weight is noted, the patient may be given the wrong dose of anesthesia. Furthermore, the anesthesiologist is responsible for watching patient vital signs and adjusting the dose of anesthesia if necessary. If the wrong amount of medication is given, patients have been known to wake-up while they are still being operated on.
In some cases, patients may be given the wrong medication after the procedure is performed. In one instance, the patient was to receive 150 mg of medication used to stabilize the heart after a cardiac bypass. The anesthesiologist, thinking each vial was filled with 50mg of the medication, gave the patient three vials of the drug. Each vial contained 300mg, however, and the patient suffered permanent brain injuries as a result of the mixup.