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Anesthesia errors have been reduced

Problems with anesthesia can lead to insufficient blood flow that can ultimately result in brain damage. Often errors in administering anesthesia come about due to simple communication errors between medical staff. The results of such errors can be devastating, but there does appear to be good news concerning its use.

Fear of adverse reaction to anesthesia too often has influenced patients in Ohio and Kentucky to put off having necessary surgery. Yet data from individual cases connected to use of anesthesia show that problems with its use are perhaps at the lowest level ever. Anesthesia-related deaths have fallen in the last 25-years from two per every 10,000 patients to one in every 200,000 to 300,000.

Despite such data, the National Institute of General Medical Sciences explicitly states that general anesthesia may be among the most dangerous drugs that are administered or prescribed by doctors. However, advances in use of anesthetics have allowed medical providers to at least reduce such risks.

Science has shown that various indicators show that some patients are at greater risk of adverse reaction to anesthesia. Care should be taken if the patient smokes, is obese, suffers from sleep apnea, has been diagnosed with hypertension, or has taken medication or substances that affect blood clotting. Dosages also need to be adjusted based on certain physical traits of the patient such as age, weight or gender.

What such data has shown is that medical providers have fewer excuses for mistakes made in the administration of anesthesia. Though scientists still are not sure exactly how anesthesia actually works, they have a much greater understanding of safe practices concerning the administration of anesthesia. Because errors in the use of anesthesia do continue to occur, those that administer the anesthesia must be held accountable for injuries caused due to negligence or miscommunication.

Source: Chicago Tribune, "Safe to say, anesthesia less risky than ever," by Richard Asa, Jan. 11, 2012

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