Sleep Apnea and Post-Surgical Deaths
An experienced medical malpractice attorney can hold negligent surgeons accountable
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a common sleep disorder that affects tens of millions of American adults. People with OSA stop breathing repeatedly while asleep, which can make it difficult for the brain and body to get enough oxygen.
On its own, untreated OSA can lead to a number of health problems, including headaches, diabetes, depression, high blood pressure and heart attacks. But the dangers of OSA become even greater when a patient is put on certain medications after surgery, leading to potentially life-threatening complications. Unfortunately, too many healthcare providers in Alabama and throughout the country are not handling these dangers appropriately, putting millions of patients at risk. When those providers fail to provide appropriate care, the medical malpractice lawyers at Dean Waite & Associates, LLC hold them accountable.
Pain medication and sleep apnea: a potentially deadly combination
People with obstructive sleep apnea tend to have fitful periods of awakening and arousal as they have difficulty breathing during the night. When the airway becomes obstructed, the person starts to wake up, which reopens the airway and allows breathing to continue. However, certain pain medications such as opioids can cause sedation, making it difficult or impossible to wake up when the patient has difficulty breathing. This causes nocturnal hypoxia, or lack of oxygen - which can lead to permanent brain damage or even death.
Patients who have just undergone surgery are often put on powerful pain medications delivered by patient-controlled analgesia (PCA), commonly called a "pain pump." In patients without sleep apnea, those pain medications are a welcome relief, but for those who have sleep apnea, the sedative effect can prove deadly.
Medical providers need to provide appropriate care for patients with sleep apnea
The post-operative dangers associated with sleep apnea have been well known in the medical community since the early 1990s. Today, hospitals are expected to meet high standards of care for these patients, which may include placing them in intensive care in order to closely monitor breathing. But too many doctors and hospitals fail to follow those protocols consistently.
If you lost a loved one with sleep apnea after surgery, or if your loved one suffered a serious injury such as brain damage, a negligent surgeon, anesthesiologist or nurse may be responsible. An experienced medical malpractice lawyer can investigate the circumstances surrounding the incident and fight for the fair compensation and justice your family deserves.
Don't hesitate. If you've been affected by a post-operative tragedy involving sleep apnea, contact our law firm right away. We offer free, fully confidential consultations to clients in Mobile and throughout Alabama. Call (866) 434-5840.