Call us today at 281-580-8800 or email us at ask@painterfirm.com

Obstructive sleep apnea places patients at an increased risk of anesthesia-related complications Contact Now

The importance of sleep and sleep disorders in life and medical malpractice

Obstructive sleep apnea places patients at an increased risk of anesthesia-related complications

Over the past few years, I’ve become a student of sleep research. The medical and psychological studies in this interesting area are fascinating.

And today, the day after Daylight Savings Time Day 2021, is an excellent day to talk about the importance of sleep.

Studies have shown that today is a bad, bad day because of the loss of just one hour’s worth of sleep. Consider these sobering rough statistics for the Monday after Daylight Savings Time Day in each Spring:

• There’s around a 25% increase in car wrecks.

• There’s a similar increase in hospital admissions for strokes, heart attacks, and cardiovascular complications.

• Sentences handed out by federal judges to criminal defendants are demonstrably harsher than on normal days.

When we gain an hour in each Fall, the trends work in reverse.

Isn’t that incredible?

The long and short of it is that medical science has rapidly advanced in understanding the importance of sleep are indispensable to our physical, mental, and preventative wellbeing. So it’s not surprising that we’ve also benefited from evolving insights into the significance of sleep disorders.

One in particular comes to mind, sleep apnea.

Most everyone has heard of this condition, which is a sleep disorder where the affected person repeatedly stops and re-starts breathing while sleeping. It’s usually caused when the palate and muscles of the throat relax while sleeping, causing the airway to collapse temporarily. It can affect anyone, but people who are older and obese experience it in higher percentages.

Although there are about three million cases of sleep apnea diagnosed each year, sleep experts believe that about 80% of people with moderate and severe sleep apnea haven’t been diagnosed.

Any time a patient is going to receive general anesthesia for surgery, sleep apnea should be considered when the anesthesiologist or certified registered nurse anesthetist (CRNA) formulates the anesthetic plan.

In cases of surgical patients having diagnosed or suspected (clinical) sleep apnea, the anesthesia provider should consider special precautions, including having a difficult airway plan in place, in case something goes wrong. Sleep apnea patients require special attention before extubation (removal of the breathing tube, when it’s used in part of the anesthesia care) and at the conclusion or emergence of anesthesia to ensure that the patient is awake and alert enough to control his or her airway.

Failing to account for sleep apnea during anesthesia can result in serious complications including brain injury and even death.

If you or someone you care for has been seriously injured because of poor sleep apnea or anesthesia care in Texas, then contact a top-rated experienced Houston, Texas medical malpractice lawyer about your potential case.

Robert Painter is an award-winning medical malpractice attorney at Painter Law Firm PLLC, in Houston, Texas. He is a former hospital administrator who represents patients and family members in medical negligence and wrongful death lawsuits all over Texas. Contact him by calling 281-580-8800 or emailing him right now.


// Read full biography
// Read more expertise by Robert Painter

Discover More