Anesthesia Injury

Anesthesia is an essential part of many medical procedures. Unfortunately, administration of the medication comes with inherent risks. An anesthesia error can easily have a fatal result. However, death isn’t the only potential outcome. Patients often suffer anesthesia injuries, some of which come with lifelong effects. 

If you or a loved one think you’ve suffered anesthesia injuries after a medical procedure, it’s important to understand your options. Contacting a lawyer promptly may allow you to recover compensation through a medical malpractice claim.

What Is an Anesthesia Injury?

Anesthesia is a general term that refers to the use of medications known as anesthetics. The primary purpose of anesthesia is to block the patient’s pain receptors during a medical procedure. Depending on the type of procedure and anesthetic used, anesthesia may involve intentionally causing the patient to lose consciousness for the duration of the procedure. 

Administering anesthesia is a complex process. A patient’s dosage must be carefully calculated based on factors that include age, weight, and underlying health conditions. The patient’s vital signs and the equipment used must be carefully monitored throughout the process to ensure the patient is safe. A slight error in any one area can result in death or serious injury to the patient.

Types of Anesthesia

Not all medical use of anesthesia is the same. 

The most common ways of administering anesthesia include: 

  • Local: One small, specific area of the body
  • Regional: A larger area of the body
  • General: The entire body

General anesthesia is most commonly used during major surgery. It typically results in paralysis of most of the patient’s body, as well as loss of sensation. This is generally considered to be the most high-risk form of anesthesia. 

However, all forms of anesthesia carry a risk of error and serious injury. For example, one common form of regional anesthesia is the epidural, which is often administered during labor to assist with childbirth. An epidural error can result in significant nerve damage in the lower half of the body.

What Are Common Anesthesia Injuries?

Anesthesia injuries can take many forms. The type of anesthesia used and the medical procedure being performed directly impact the anesthesia injury a patient is most at risk of suffering. However, the majority of serious anesthesia injuries fall into one of a few categories.

Nerve Damage

Nerve damage is a well-known anesthesia injury. Peripheral nerve damage and spinal cord damage are the two most common types of nerve injuries associated with the administration of anesthesia. 

With peripheral nerves, the most common injury sites are the ulnar nerve in the arm and the peroneal nerve below the knee. Damage to the nerves in the spinal column is less common. However, when it occurs, the result is more likely to be a catastrophic injury.

Physical Injury

Physical injuries are some of the most frequently occurring injuries associated with anesthesia. However, they’re also typically the least severe. 

Common forms of physical anesthesia injuries include: 

  • Sore throat from the breathing tube
  • Injury to the lungs or trachea
  • Bruised veins
  • Damaged blood vessels

Most physical injuries from anesthesia administration heal quickly. However, complications can arise, particularly if an infection develops at the injection site or the patient suffers more serious injury to parts of the respiratory system. 


Anesthesia allergies are rare. However, they can be life-threatening when they occur. Because of this, anesthesiologists typically inquire about patient allergies beforehand and perform an allergy test before administering the medication. The anesthesiologist must also carefully monitor the patient for signs of allergic reaction while they are under anesthesia. 


Anesthesia overdose, while rare, is one of the most severe forms of anesthesia injury. 

When a patient’s dose is over-calculated or the machinery malfunctions, outcomes can include: 

  • Death
  • Permanent nerve damage
  • Brain damage
  • Coma
  • Seizures
  • Heart attack

It’s also possible for a patient to suffer an anesthesia underdose. In this situation, they receive an insufficient amount of anesthesia. In these cases, a paralyzed patient may be unable to communicate that they can feel the operation, resulting in a painful, traumatic experience.

Who Could Be Responsible For Anesthesia Injuries?

Liability for an anesthesia injury usually falls on the anesthesiologist. This is a type of doctor who specializes in administering anesthesia. The anesthesiologist typically performs a health assessment before a medical procedure, calculates the dosage, and monitors the patient both during and after the procedure.

However, an anesthesiologist is not the only person who can be responsible for an anesthesia injury. Any healthcare provider, such as a doctor, surgeon, or nurse, might be partially liable for the patient’s injuries. In a case involving equipment malfunction, the equipment manufacturer might also bear some financial responsibility.

When medical negligence results in serious injuries, identifying who is responsible for the error is important. A lawyer needs to determine liability before they can help you recover compensation for the injury costs.

What Types of Compensation Can You Recover For an Anesthesia Injury?

If an anesthesiologist or another medical professional causes anesthesia injuries, you may be able to recover compensation through a medical malpractice claim. An anesthesia error can lead to significant short-term medical issues and extensive bills as a result. 

If injuries are permanent, you may be left with long-term injury costs, such as the need for lifelong attendant care. Long-term injuries can also leave you with a lost or diminished earning ability, which may place a considerable financial burden on you and your family.

Anesthesia injury compensation has the potential to reimburse you for these and other costs. 

As a medical malpractice lawyer works on your case, they may be able to help you recover compensation for: 

Anesthesia errors can alter a patient’s life in an instant. When you trust a healthcare provider with your life and they make an avoidable error, a lawyer can help you hold them accountable for the damage they’ve caused.

Do you know or suspect that your injuries or medical complications were the result of an anesthesia error in San Diego, CA? If so, we may be able to help you recover compensation for your anesthesia injury. 

Our award-winning personal injury lawyers have recovered millions for injured clients in San Diego. We’re available to review your case during a free consultation and can identify your options for recovering compensation. To learn about the compensation to which you might be entitled, contact Mission Personal Injury Lawyers for a free case evaluation with an experienced San Diego injury lawyer at (619) 777-5555.