How long until oxygen deprivation causes brain damage?

On Behalf of | Oct 13, 2021 | Medical Malpractice

There are numerous ways that a medical mistake could leave you with lasting brain damage, from a surgeon botching a procedure to a medical team operating on the wrong area of the brain. But one of the greatest risks is through a lack of oxygen. 

In various different medical settings, the team is supposed to monitor your vital signs and make sure you are breathing properly. They may not be operating on your brain at all, but the brain is the organ that will be irreparably damaged if your oxygen supply is cut off for too long. So, what you may be wondering is just how long you have until this occurs. 

A typical timeline 

While all situations are unique, here is a typical timeline that medical experts agree on: 

  • You can pass out between 30 seconds to three minutes without oxygen.
  • After just a minute without oxygen, brain cells can start to die. 
  • The odds of lasting damage increase at three minutes when neurons are damaged. 
  • If you get to five minutes, then it is likely you will not recover at all. 
  • The brain can technically survive for 10 minutes, but you will likely have lasting damage and will end up in a coma. 
  • Survival is very unlikely at 15 minutes and beyond. 

This can all happen very quickly. If the person who is supposed to monitor you fails to do so for just a few minutes, you could already be to the point where you’ll suffer life-changing damage. If this happens to you or a family member, the medical center and those involved may be liable for significant compensation