Malignant Hyperthermia

by Chris Kuhlman on September 18, 2015

Malignant hyperthermia (MH) is a life-threatening reaction to general anesthesia. If not treated immediately, it can kill an otherwise healthy patient on the operating table. A survivor of a malignant hyperthermia episode may be left with injury to various vital organs, including the brain, as well as muscle impairment.

In a malignant hyperthermia crisis, the heart rate jumps, muscles go rigid and then break down, the blood becomes acidic, and the body’s temperature heats up dangerously. Because this all happens so suddenly and often unexpectedly, all anesthesiologists must be prepared for any given surgery patient to develop malignant hyperthermia. Any operating room where patients undergo general anesthesia should be equipped with measures to intervene in a malignant hyperthermia episode, such as a hypothermia blanket and a blood/respiration chemistry monitor. The recovery room should also be well-equipped for this sort of crisis.

Malignant hyperthermia susceptibility is genetic. Anyone with a close biological family member who has died or experienced anesthesia-related complications during surgery should tell his or her anesthesiologist, even if this person him or herself has taken anesthetics without any problem before.

If you or a loved one have experienced malignant hyperthermia during surgery, contact a Minnesota medical malpractice attorney at Kuhlman Law, PLLC at (612) 349-2747 for a free consultation to discuss your or your loved one’s case.  If we accept your case, we will help you look through the evidence and determine whether the anesthetist took the right steps to prepare for and treat the crisis, or made a potentially fatal error.

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