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Anaesthetic Negligence Claims

For the vast majority of surgical procedures you will require some form of anaesthetic, either a local anaesthetic (where you are awake during the procedure) or a general anaesthetic (where you are asleep).  One of the main purposes of anaesthesia is to ensure that you do not feel any pain from the procedure.  An Anaesthetist will determine the type of anaesthetic required for your particular procedure and also how this should be administered.


In most circumstances there will be no complications which arise from anaesthesia, but in a small number of cases, patients can suffer injury. This can be either through physical and/or psychological as a result of problems arising from the use of anaesthetic and these problems may in turn have occurred as a result of the negligence of the treating anaesthetists.  An example is ‘anaesthetic awareness’ which is where the patient becomes conscious during the procedure when they should not be, and can feel pain from the procedure.  This awareness can frequently cause the patient to suffer psychological injury, with flashbacks to the procedure, which can cause major impact on the patient’s life.

The Clinical Negligence Team act for clients in a large number of claims as a result of anaesthetic negligence, where our clients have suffered many different injuries and financial losses as a result. Please see below for further information and contact us today for further advice on bringing a claim.

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What is anaesthetic awareness and when is it negligent?

As described above, ‘anaesthetic awareness’ is where a patient becomes conscious during the procedure but are unable to let anyone know as a result of being unable to move/speak due to the other effects of the anaesthetic. As a result you may feel the physical pain of the procedure.  ‘Anaesthetic awareness’ may occur for a number of reasons:

  • The anaesthetist incorrectly calculated the amount of anaesthetic required – this in turn may be due to simple arithmetic errors, or as a result of taking an inadequate history/measurements from the patient.
  • Equipment malfunction and specifically a failure to undertake basic checks/tests of the equipment prior to the procedure which would have highlighted the problem.
  • Failure to check the drugs before they are administered to ensure they are the correct drugs and correct amount.
  • Failure to monitor the patient adequately during the procedure when signs of awareness were apparent and could be acted on earlier.

What other types of claim arise as a result of anaesthetic negligence?

Other claims as a result of anaesthetic negligence can arise in the following circumstances:

  • Giving the patient too much anaesthetic – an overdose – or giving the anaesthetic by the wrong method, which can lead to organ damage.
  • A failure to adequately monitor the patient during the procedure – in particular oxygen levels and heart rate.  In extreme circumstances this can lead to a patient being starved of oxygen for prolonged periods which can cause brain damage or organ damage.
  • Failing to take an adequate history from a patient who has previous problems with certain types of anaesthetic causing a further adverse reaction.
  • Failing to ensure the patient under general anaesthetic, who is unable to move themselves, is positioned correctly on the operating table.  This can lead to nerve damage if the patient is in an incorrect position for a prolonged period of time.

This is not an exhaustive list and each case must be considered on its own facts.  If you believe you have suffered injury as a result of an issue with anaesthetic then please contact our specialist team for further advice.

What amount of compensation will I receive?

The amount of compensation will depend on the injuries you have suffered and your individual circumstances.

Most claims include compensation for pain and suffering (general damages) and compensation for any specific financial losses you have suffered as a result of your injuries (special damages).  Special damages can include additional care, loss of earnings, equipment and further treatment/therapies.

We will work closely with you, and fight for you, to ensure you receive the maximum compensation to which you are entitled for your injuries.

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