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Malignant Hyperthermia

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.

How often does the Plaintiff win in a Medical Malpractice Trial?

While newspaper headlines of million dollar jury verdicts draw a great deal of attention, the majority of Plaintiffs in medical malpractice trials actually lose their cases and receive nothing.  In fact, on average, when a medical malpractice case proceeds to trial, a plaintiff has roughly a 25% chance of winning the case, which is half that of any other tort case.

This low likelihood of victory at trial is why there are fewer attorneys who actually handle Plaintiffs’ medical malpractice cases and why they generally charge a slightly larger contingency fee rate than a standard personal injury case.

There are many theories as to why victims of medical malpractice have such a difficulty of prevailing at trial.  Some people believe that juries put a lot of trust and faith into doctors and modern medicine and have difficulty accepting that a doctor could cause such drastic harm to anyone by departing from the proper standard of care.

Other people believe that one of the reason Plaintiffs have difficulty winning medical malpractice cases is because some juries may be intimidated when asked to dissect the complex medical evidence and testimony presented at trial and, out of confusion or caution, side with the doctor or Defendant.

To combat this problem, a good Plaintiff’s attorney should take care to carefully guide the jury through the medical evidence in a manner so that they can clearly understand it and recognize how the doctor departed from the standard of care in the particular case at hand.

To aid the jury in their understanding of the medicine, a Plaintiff should present doctor witnesses (expert witnesses) at trial competent in the field of medicine at issue.  These expert witnesses should be able to fully explain to the jury the medicine or medical procedure at issue.  Instead of just focusing on the expert witnesses’ resume and credentials, a good medical malpractice attorney advocating for victims should also make sure that the expert witness doctor is capable of and willing to break down the medicine for the non-physician jurors so that they can understand key concepts and appreciate what truly happened and how it harmed the patient.

If you believe you have a medical malpractice claim, it is important to speak with a medical malpractice attorney immediately.  A Minnesota medical malpractice lawyer can help you to navigate the pitfalls of litigation and prepare your case in a manner that increases your chance of prevailing at trial.