Despite the advances that have been made in surgical technology and procedures, errors still can happen. Among the most dire of these are mistakes that lead to brain damage in a patient. In many cases, these are preventable errors, caused when medical staff don't pay attention to conditions as they develop during surgery.
A common cause of these kinds of brain injury is hypoxia. This is a condition where the brain doesn't get enough oxygen -- even when a person has enough blood flow. A bad reaction to anesthesia can lead to cerebral hypoxia.
The consequences of this condition can be extremely serious. It only takes a few minutes without oxygen for brain cells to begin dying. If the circumstances are not corrected immediately, the effects may be irreversible. In general, people who have unconscious the least amount of time have the best prognosis for recovering from hypoxia.
If someone has been unconscious for a long period of time, the effects can be critical: the chance for seizures is increased, as well as the possibility of the person slipping into a coma. Especially bad cases can cause brain death in an otherwise healthy person.
Obviously, people who survive extended periods without adequate oxygen to their brains may very well be permanently disabled. These people might require ongoing, permanent care as a result of the brain damage they have sustained. This could place a heavy burden on family members who are left to care for a person in this situation. An experienced medical malpractice attorney can be contacted for cases involving negligence.
Source: Cleveland Clinic, "Cerebral Hypoxia," retrieved Nov. 11, 2013