One of the many fears patients have when contemplating a surgical procedure is the risk from receiving anesthesia to put them to sleep during the operation. Like other risks during surgery such as incision errors, having foreign objects left within the body or getting an infection, an error made by an anesthesiologist can have serious, even deadly, consequences.

Anesthesiology is actually a very complicated field and requires individuals to be highly trained. Most anesthesiologists are members of the American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA), which is an organization that maintains general guidelines for anesthesiologists to adhere to.

Different factors must be considered by the anesthesiologist when a patient is being evaluated for surgery. Some of those risk factors are:

  • Age
  • Weight
  • General health
  • Whether the patient has a history of smoking
  • A personal history of diabetes
  • Whether the patient has any heart complications

An anesthesiologist should discuss these potential complications with the patient well before the date of the surgery. If the risks posed by one or more of those factors are too great, the patient should not undergo anesthesia and therefore would not be a candidate for surgery. It is not uncommon for a doctor to fail in assessing a patient's eligibility for anesthesia or to approve a patient for surgery who has a high risk of anesthesia complications. Both of these scenarios can be disastrous for the patient.

One of the most common errors with anesthesia is administering an incorrect dosage to the patient. Dosages that are too weak or too concentrated can both be highly detrimental to the patient. The selection of drugs for the anesthesia is extremely important as well. During the procedure, the anesthesiologist must monitor the patient's vital signs and must adjust the patient's dosage if necessary.

Occasionally, patients under anesthesia experience a lack of oxygen to the brain. When the anesthesiologist makes a mistake leading to an incorrect balance of anesthetics and oxygen being delivered to the body, hypoxia or anoxia can occur. If this occurs, the patient may suffer serious brain damage or even die. There are many other types of injuries and complications that a patient can suffer from as the result of an anesthesiologist's mistakes, including a heart attack, aspiration or a stroke.