One of our administrative law clients received an inquiry from the Medical Board of California regarding a patient’s complaint alleging over-anesthetizing and improper care related to surgery.
The underlying case involved a teen-age patient who underwent oral surgery under general anesthesia administered by our client at an oral surgeon’s office. When the anesthesia began to wear off, the patient’s eyes remained closed and he became violent, thrashing about, pulling out the intravenous lines, and acting in a threatening manner to the staff. The patient was restrained to prevent injury.
The patient’s reaction after surgery is referred to by anesthesiologists as “emergence excitement,” a known medical reaction to anesthesia, especially in younger patients.
When the patient’s family arrived at the oral surgeon’s office to take their son home, they became alarmed. They wanted to call “911.” Recognizing the symptoms described above, the anesthesiologist urged everyone to remain calm and suggested that the patient would recover in a few minutes. The family insisted on calling “911” and after they did so, the patient was transported to the emergency room. He was later released. There was a full recovery without incident.
The patient’s family later complained to the Medical Board, stating that the physician tried to prevent them from calling 911; that their son was over-medicated; and alleged that the events in question caused their son to suffer post-traumatic stress and a sleep disorder.
We assisted our client in developing a comprehensive response to the Medical Board’s inquiry. The response included complete patient records and a thorough treatment narrative, including an article outlining the specific standard of care for anesthesiologists in such circumstances.
The Medical Board closed the case without further action.
Stephen M. Boreman is an administrative law attorney who defends California physicians before the Medical Board of California as well as other licensed professionals in administrative law matters.