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Sleep Apnea Sufferers Have a Higher Risk of Hypoxia During Surgery

September 12th, 2016

Sleep apnea is a disorder where breathing repeatedly stops and starts while the individual is asleep. Since it is a disruption to REM sleep, those affected often feel fatigued during the day or wake up with headaches and have difficulty with irritability and paying attention. It is also uncontrollable, which can make it potentially dangerous to those who suffer from it.

Sleep apnea can cause complications when a patient is put under anesthesia for surgery. Anesthesia is a temporary state of unconsciousness. It slows down heart rate and relaxes the patient, which can then cause more intense breathing issues for those with sleep apnea.

Patients who have sleep apnea have an increased chance of complications during anesthesia including:

  • Hypoxia
  • Pneumonia
  • Difficult Intubation
  • Heart Attack (MI)
  • Pulmonary Embolism (PE)

When undergoing surgery it is important to inform your doctor if you have sleep apnea. However, most individuals who have sleep apnea are unaware that they even suffer from it. Before surgery takes place, it is the responsibility of your doctor to conduct a thorough preoperative assessment to ensure that the patient will be safe once in surgery.

Post-operative patients should also be closely monitored for hypoxia or other complications. Hypoxia is a life-threatening condition that occurs when a person is not receiving enough oxygen, such as when the airway is blocked, or breathing is too shallow, too slow, or breathing stops altogether. Hypoxic injuries include tissue and organ damage, heart attacks, brain injury and even death.

Symptoms of hypoxia include:

  • Skin, lips and nail beds turning blue (cyanosis)
  • Fast heart rate (tachycardia)
  • Rapid breathing (tachypnea)
  • Shortness of breath (dyspnea)
  • Coughing
  • Confusion or loss of consciousness.

When any of these symptoms occur the most important thing is to get oxygen back into the body. Hospital professionals may do this by delivering oxygen through at tube into the nose or mouth, or a breathing machine may be used for more severe cases.

If you or a loved one experienced hypoxia or any other complication after surgery because a health care professional failed to take the necessary precautions to ensure your safety, call The Yost Legal Group at 1-800-YOST-LAW (967-8529) for a free consultation. Our experienced attorneys at Yost Legal Group fight hard for individuals who have been negatively impacted by the negligence of others and are always ready to investigate your claim with compassion and determination.

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