Anesthesia Errors

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New Hepatitis C case Desert Shadow Nevada Endoscopy Center

NEWS March 19, 2008: Another case of Hepatitis C:

State health officials in Nevada have found evidence of another hepatitis C case related to the first outbreak at the Shadow Lane facility that was closed down last week.

Many weeks after a procedure was performed at the Desert Shadow clinic, the patient's doctor made a diagnosis of the infection, the health district said. This was not reported to the district, as is required by state law, officials said.

"Had the doctor reported this to us, maybe we would have been able to find it back in 2006 and eliminated any potential for disease transmission," said Brian Labus, chief epidemiologist for the health district.

After health officials revealed that the six Endoscopy Center patients were infected after medication vials -- infected by reused syringes -- were used on multiple patients, notices were sent to 40,000 patients urging them to be tested for hepatitis and HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.

Over the next few days, disease investigators will review Desert Shadow's patient records to identify individuals who might have been exposed.


Endoscopy Center of Nevada Shut Down.

NEWS: March 3, 2008

The City of Las Vegas went into action and has now closed the Endoscopy Center of Nevada.

City officials have revoked the business license on Friday afternoon. This was in response to the story dated last week of over 40,000 people who may have been infected with HIV, Hepatitis C and other blood borne diseases. The outbreak was from the clinic sharing vials of medication.

Mayor Oscar Goodman said the clinic’s business license would be suspended until further notice.

The clinic issued a statement Wednesday saying it had cleaned up its practices and was cooperating with the health district's investigation.

----------------------------END OF NEWS----------------


Nevada Hepatitis C Outbreak in Progress

Patients who have had treatments, specifically anesthesia, performed at the Endoscopy Center of Nevada need to take immediate heed, as five people have been diagnosed with hepatitis C after their visits to this facility on the same day.  In total, six cases of this disease have been identified to this point. 

The Nevada state and the United States federal government cooperated with this urgent investigation, specifically the Nevada State Bureau of Licensure and Certification (BLC) and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  Their analysis concluded that there were unsafe injection practices performed in furtherance of providing anesthesia to patients.  These unsafe procedures may have exposed these patients to other patients’ affected blood.

Estimates indicate that 40,000 patients had anesthesia injections performed between the dates of March, 2004 and January 11, 2008, and officials are recommending that all of them contact their primary medical care provider immediately to schedule a test for several conditions, including hepatitis C, hepatitis B and HIV. 

Endoscopy Center of Southern Nevada response:

On behalf of the Endoscopy Center of Southern Nevada, we want to express our deep concern about this incident to the many patients who have put their trust in us over the years. As always, our patients remain our primary responsibility and we have already corrected the situation.

The recent events related to the Southern Nevada Health District study mark the first time anything like this has ever happened at our facility. We have already taken steps to ensure that it will never happen again.

The health district began its investigation in January, and we have been fully cooperating with them. We were officially notified by the health district on February 6, 2008 and submitted our detailed Plan of Correction on February 15, 2008. All concerns noted by the health department were addressed immediately. We continue to work closely with the Southern Nevada Health District and other health agencies during this ongoing review. We want to be sure that every patient who may have been exposed is informed and tested.

To help us with these issues, we have engaged the services of nationally renowned experts who have extensive epidemiological experience and that have worked closely with the Centers for Disease Control in the past. They include Dr. Janine Jason, CEO of Jason and Jarvis Associates. She is a Harvard Medical School-trained physician, epidemiologist, and immunologist who served as a medical scientist and senior epidemiologist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and was on the Emory Medical School faculty for 23 years prior to becoming a private consultant. Dr. Jason has authored more than a hundred peer-reviewed medical and epidemiologic scientific articles.

In addition to our corrective actions, we are on a mission to maintain the trust our patients have had in us during our years of service to southern Nevada.

We wish to emphasize that the actual risk of anyone being affected by this is extremely low, but as a precaution, anyone who has undergone procedures at the Endoscopy Center who required anesthesia should be tested.

As I’m sure you understand this situation brings with it a number of complex elements including patient privacy and regulatory guidelines. At this time, our counsel has asked that we limit our comments to this statement, and we are unable to take questions.

Thank you.

---------END NEWS STORY ON hepatitis C outbreak------

If you have ever undergone surgery then you probably had the experience of being put under anesthesia. Anesthesia blocks the perception of pain signal sent from the brain and allows people to get through surgery relatively pain-free. Anesthesia is a very precise process but unfortunately there is a wide potential for anesthesia error.

Medical science is always producing more sophisticated equipment in making procedures safer, easier, and less stressful on the patient. However, they are far from foolproof and a qualified anesthesiologist is always needed to observe and avoid anesthesia error.

There are several different causes that can result in an anesthesia error. Some of the most common include:

  • Overdose/Underdose.  These two incredibly simple errors can have devastating consequences on a patient.  Too much anesthesia can result in organ failure, brain damage, coma, and even death.  Too little anesthesia, on the other hand can cause the patient to wake up in the middle of surgery, but be unable to express their condition to the surgeon.
  • Allergies to common anesthetics.  More and more people have allergies to common drugs, and it is the responsibility of the aesthetician to ensure that the chemicals used in the surgery will not have any adverse affects on the patient.
  • Interactions between anesthesia and other drugs.  Many anesthesia accidents occur because doctors fail to cross check the potentially harmful interaction of anesthetics and drugs in the patient’s system.
  • Failure to advise on food and water interactions.  Patients need to be told that they must not eat or drink within 24 hours of the surgery to reduce the potential for complications.

Continued reliance on outdated equipment also increases the potential for mistakes. Many of the anesthesia errors can come from the EKG or electrocardiogram. These electrodes are placed on the surface of the skin to measure the patient's heart rate and activity. The problem is the EKG device is quite sensitive and can be influenced by a variety of factors. An inaccurate reading of heart rate can adversely affect how an anesthesiologist monitors and adjusts the level of anesthesia for the patient.

There are other things that affect the EKG. Noise originating from the patient is one factor. Involuntary movements like shivering can affect the reading and raise the risk of anesthesia error. Noise originating from the patient electrode interface is another factor. When things are put on the patient's skin such as degreasing agents, like alcohol, this can affect the electrode and the signal it receives. This can again raise the risk of anesthesia errors.

Noise originating from the environment is another cause. An operating theater is full of things that can create sources of AC current. These currents can potentially influence the EKG reading and produce anesthesia error.

If you have been the victim of an anesthesia error, you must consult a medical malpractice attorney immediately. You could be entitled to financial compensation for your suffering, but if you hesitate the statute of limitations in your state could end your case before it has a chance to begin. Contact our anesthesia error attorneys today.

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Anesthesia Errors can and do happen.
If you or someone you love has suffered an anesthesia error, please take time to contact our legal team by using the form above. Page updated on 3/19/2008 for hepatitis C outbreak.