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How Much Is an Anesthesia Malpractice Lawsuit Worth?

A person who believes that they have been a victim of anesthesia malpractice may be entitled to receive thousands, if not millions of dollars in damages. While anesthesia malpractice lawsuits can be challenging, an experienced attorney will determine beforehand if a case can be made. 

One study found that anesthesia malpractice payouts were trending upward, jumping to 36 percent of all claims in 2018. The same study found that the mean payment amount in anesthesia cases from 2013 – 2018 was about $420,000. It is important to note that almost a quarter of anesthesia cases deal with tooth damage. These cases tend to settle for much smaller amounts because the overall harm is less severe than other injuries that can occur from anesthesia. 

Generally, however, the upward trend should be encouraging if you believe that you’ve been harmed and want to pursue an anesthesia malpractice lawsuit. The best way to maximize your chances for a successful outcome and getting the compensation you deserve is to hire an attorney who has years of experience in these kinds of cases. 

What Can You Recover in a Settlement?

Like any other medical malpractice lawsuit dealing with personal injury, a person can sue to recover for economic damages, non-economic damages, and perhaps even punitive damages. An attorney will help determine all of the claims an injured person may be entitled to by doing a thorough investigation into the details of the case. The three kinds of damages can be better understood as the following: 

Economic Damages

  • Medical expenses, including past expenses as well as anticipated future expenses
  • Lost earnings, both past and future resulting from diminished capacity or complete inability to work due to the injury
  • Cost of therapy, home care attendants, medical equipment, and other related expenses 

Non-economic Damages

  • Conscious pain and suffering that has resulted from the injury as well as anticipated suffering if the injury will have impact on the person in the future, particularly in the case of permanent injuries
  • Past and future loss of enjoyment of life

Punitive Damages

  • These are much rarer and are awarded in circumstances where the at-fault party has engaged in conduct so reckless or in such disregard of applicable standards of care as to warrant punishment by the court

Case Law Examples

  • A wrongful death action was brought against two doctors when a 54-year-old female with a history of heart and respiratory problems died after she went into cardiac arrest following a medical procedure.
  • They were sued for being negligent in obtaining a complete medical history, failing to record the medications that the deceased was taking, improperly administering anesthesia, and failing to conduct alternative procedures that didn’t involve anesthesia.
  • The jury awarded $500,000 in total damages, with the doctor in charge of anesthesia liable for $375,000 and the other doctor liable for $175,000.
  • A wrongful death action was brought against an anesthesiologist, certified registered nurse anesthetist, and hospital after a patient with pre-existing heart disease died of myocardial infarction after undergoing surgery.
  • The estate of the deceased maintained that the defendants negligently supervised the deceased by failing to recognize his pre-existing conditions, not recommending any form of cardiac anesthesia, not recognizing the drop in blood pressure at the beginning of surgery, not addressing complaints of back pain post procedure, and not obtaining informed consent from the patient. 
  • The jury awarded $800,000 in total compensatory damages – $700,000 for compensatory past wages and $100,000 for pain and suffering.
  • A wrongful death action was brought against a physician for the negligent behavior of a nurse anesthetist under his supervision after the patient suffered a fatal heart attack from oxygen deprivation during a bronchoscopy.
  • The defendant was sued for failing to monitor the nurse when the anesthesia was administered, improperly training the nurse on a patient with preexisting respiratory issues, and continuing with the procedure without the anesthetist present, among other related claims.
  • The parties reached a settlement for $3.5 million in compensatory damages.  

Who to Contact for Help

The best way to begin addressing the problems that may have arisen out of anesthesia malpractice complications is to hold those responsible accountable. A successful lawsuit will ensure that compensation is paid by those responsible for the harm that they have caused. While money does not fix everything, a lawsuit assures accountability and alleviates some burden on the injured person. Hiring the right attorney makes a significant difference in winning or losing your malpractice lawsuit. For more information on personal injury lawsuits, see our other page

At Rosenblum Law, we’ve been handling medical malpractice claims for decades. We work with medical experts to help support our clients’ claims, and are experienced negotiators when it comes to going up against insurance companies. Our firm is here to help you make sense of your options and protect your rights as a patient. Contact us today for an initial consultation.


Can I sue for too much anesthesia?

Too much medication can have serious repercussions and give cause for legal claims. An overdose of anesthesia can lead to respiratory or cardiovascular collapse. The anesthesiologist has a professional duty to ensure that the patient does not overdose on medication and has undergone years of rigorous schooling and practice so that they know the proper amounts to administer. Failing to take the proper precautions can be an indicator of a departure from the professional standard of care required of the anesthesiologist.

How do you prove causation in an anesthesia case?

To prove causation, it must first be shown that the anesthesiologist’s conduct caused the injury – that it was more probable than not that the doctor’s actions were a substantial factor in causing the injury. An attorney has to be prepared to retain an expert witness who can show that the harm would probably not have occurred if proper care was taken.

What if I didn’t tell the anesthesiologist about my medical history or failed to disclose a pre-existing condition?

There is a distinction to be made between the anesthesiologist not asking you thorough questions or any questions at all as compared to the patient not answering questions correctly and medical history not being made available to the anesthesiologist. If the anesthesiologist did not consult the patient at all, then the patient cannot be held negligent for failure to disclose. Furthermore, a person’s medical history should still be available to the physician, regardless of whether or not the patient themselves properly disclosed their pre-existing conditions. The physician has a duty to conduct due diligence to obtain all of the necessary information prior to procedure. Therefore, even if you did not disclose your medical history, it is still possible to build a winning claim. 

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