Was your anesthesiologist in the room during the operation?

Most people would never think twice about the possibility of their anesthesiologist leaving the operating room while they are unconscious from anesthesia. Yet there is a very real chance that he or she might not actually be at your side during the entire procedure.

American hospitals typically follow a team model for anesthesia, wherein an anesthesiologist may be overseeing as many as five concurrent procedures actually being conducted by nurse anesthetists who are under the supervision of the anesthesiologist. The doctor might only be present as the patient is put under and when he or she is brought back.

As stated by a Mayo Clinic anesthesiologist who happens to be the head of the American Society of Anesthesiologists, “this model lets us work on other patients while nurse anesthetists watch over things.”

And while the modern mortality rate is at its nadir, things can, and do, go wrong. There are a multitude of adverse events that can occur when a patient is anesthetized, and some can be catastrophic or fatal.

In a case in another state, an anesthesiologist was medically directing a patient’s endoscopy. This meant she had to be present only when the patient was put under and brought back to consciousness. These are the most dangerous moments of the anesthesia process. But other than those crucial points, she was overseeing other procedures.

There, unfortunately, were errors that were made and results overlooked in this unlucky patient’s case. She received improper anesthesia dosages and experienced difficulties being intubated. The ultimate result was that this patient died.

Could she have survived had her anesthesiologist never left her side? That remains unknown, but it is a definite possibility.

If you suffered from anesthesia complications, or lost a love one to an anesthesia-related death, you might have a cause of action for a malpractice suit against the hospital and/or physician.

Source: Houston Press, “Going Under: What can happen if your anesthesiologist leaves the room during an operation,” Dianna Wray, accessed March 02, 2016