Tragic Death of Henry County Girl Blamed on Anesthesia Error


January 18, 2012

Anesthesia medical malpractice errors are rare but devastating when they occur. A five-year-old Henry County girl died after being given a fatal dose of the local anesthetic lidocaine while the girl’s broken arm was being set.

The coroner confirmed this week that the death of the girl was caused by an overdose of the anesthetic while her arm was being set at the McDonough urgent care clinic. The girl’s family took her to the hospital because she broke her arm in a fall accident. The girl was given the fatal dose of lidocaine at the clinic instead of the girl being sent to an emergency room to have her arm set.

Lidocaine is a local anesthetic that is used to reduce pain in a specific area. Local anesthetic is used mostly when general anesthesia would be too strong or when the patient needs to be conscious. Local anesthesia is a safer alternative for many medical procedures. Local anesthetics come in two main types: true local anesthetics, which will numb a small part of the body such as a tooth or a patch of skin, and regional anesthetics, which will numb a larger area, such as a limb.

Anesthetics are generally utilized to reduce the pain that may be caused by a broad range of medical procedures, which may range from dental work or removing moles to serious surgical operations. Depending on the anesthetic drug used and the amount administered, anesthesia may numb a small area of skin or render someone unconscious. Because very minor differences in the amount of an anesthetic may determine the difference between waking from one’s sleep and death, the field of anesthetics is a complicated one that can result in fatal medical errors.

There are various points during your time in the hospital or doctor’s office when medical malpractice anesthetic errors may occur. Patients expect that health care professionals will take all appropriate steps to avoid an anesthetic error. When a health care professional fails to use the proper degree of prudence and care, a medical malpractice anesthesia error may result in catastrophic injuries or as in the Henry County case the tragic death of a loved one.

Some of the most common anesthesia error medical malpractice cases involve the following:

  • Inadequate monitoring of the patient: Medical professionals have a responsibility to carefully regulate the amount of anesthesia to confirm that the patient is not in distress. If the patient is not properly supervised while under anesthesia or when it is being administered, this failure may constitute medical malpractice.
  • Dosage error: This type of medical malpractice error occurs when the patient is not given the appropriate amount of anesthetic. If the patient receives too much anesthetic, the patient may overdose and face severe injuries including but not limited to stroke, cardiac arrest, brain damage including traumatic brain injury (TBI), coma, loss of bodily function and wrongful death. If insufficient anesthetic is administered, it can result in a horrific consequence referred to as anesthetic awareness. The patient can feel pain or may wake up in the middle of the medical procedure but may be unable to communicate. The Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations has indicated that as many as 42,000 Americans experience anesthesia awareness annually.
  • Intubation injury: Intubation is a procedure used by the anesthesiologist to ensure that a patient receives adequate oxygen supply and can breath safely during a medical procedure. The failure to properly intubate a patient can lead to catastrophic injuries.
  • Excessive duration of anesthesia exposure
  • Anesthesia equipment defects
  • Medical provider impaired by drugs, alcohol or fatigue

These are only a few examples of the many types of anesthesia medical malpractice errors that can occur during a medical procedure. If you or a close family member suffers serious injury or wrongful death during a medical procedure because of anesthesia error medical malpractice, the experienced Georgia medical malpractice attorneys at Montlick and Associates are committed to helping victims of medical malpractice obtain the financial compensation that they need and deserve.

Our Georgia anesthesia error medical malpractice lawyers are available to assist clients throughout all of Georgia and the Southeast, including but not limited to Albany, Athens, Atlanta, Augusta, Columbus, Gainesville, Macon, Marietta, Rome, Roswell, Savannah, Smyrna, Valdosta, Warner Robins and all smaller cities and rural areas in the state. No matter where you are located our attorneys are just a phone call away, and we will even come to you. Call us 24 hours a day/7 days a week for your Free Consultation at 1-800-LAW-NEED (1-800-529-6333). You can also visit us online at www.montlick.com and use our Free Case Evaluation Form or 24-hour Live Online Chat.

Posted by David Montlick

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Many of our blog articles discuss the law. All information provided about the law is very general in nature and should not be relied up as legal advice. Every situation is different, and should be analyzed by a lawyer who can provide individualized advice based on the facts involved in your unique situation, and a consideration of all of the nuances of the statutes and case law that apply at the time.