Depending on the surgical procedure, even a seemingly minor error can have devastating results. This is true for the anesthesia used during the procedure as well as the post-operative medications. When you are placed under anesthesia, however, you are at your most vulnerable as a patient. You are relying on your surgeon and anesthesiologist, as well as others on the team, to make sure you stay safe.
The frustrating thing about going under anesthesia is that you are not awake to point out mistakes or problems. You’re at the mercy of those providing your care, which is scary even if they are extremely capable.
As a patient, there are some steps you can take to keep yourself safer under anesthesia. Here are a few things to keep in mind.
- You have a right to speak with the anesthesiologist
Before any operation, you do have a right to speak to the anesthesiologist about your care. You can explain any allergies and go over what will happen with them. Tell them about any concerns you have and be clear about any past negative experiences with anesthesia.
- Always correct incorrect information
Whether an admin spelled your name wrong in the computer system or listed the wrong medication as potential allergies, speak up. You need to correct any incorrect statements or written information right away. It is reasonable to refuse to go into surgery until you see the corrections have been made.
- You should do your research
Any time you are going to have surgery, it’s important to do your research and get to know who will be performing the service. If this is an emergency, you may not be able to elect whom you see, but for most standard procedures, you’ll know who your surgeon is as well as have a meeting with the anesthesiologist in advance. If you have any problem with who will be treating you, let the staff know right away. It is completely reasonable to refuse care from someone who has a history of errors.
These are a few things you can do to help protect yourself from medical negligence prior to undergoing anesthesia. Anesthesia can be frightening because you lack control during an operation, but with the right information and preparation, the majority of cases go smoothly.