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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.
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:
Other claims as a result of anaesthetic negligence can arise in the following circumstances:
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.
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.
Lucy Crawford, Solicitor, acted for our female client, who suffered psychological injury as a result of becoming conscious during surgery to amputate her leg. Our client was taken to theatre and given a spinal sedation. Immediately on coming round from the operation in the recovery suite, our client told nursing staff that she was conscious in the operating theatre and recalled details of the operation. She was very upset and distressed and while she remained in hospital was too scared to sleep and experienced nightmares.
Following investigations a claim was submitted on behalf of our client and the Defendant Hospital admitted negligently failing to administer appropriate sedation during our client’s surgery.
Our client developed Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and suffered from recurring nightmares and visual flashbacks of the incident. She had difficulty sleeping and driving and was fearful of returning to hospital. She received £20,000 compensation for her psychological suffering and private therapy costs.
Rebecca Callard, Associate in the Clinical Negligence Team, acted for D, a male client, who suffered injury to his right arm as a result of alleged negligence during laparoscopic cholecystectomy (gallbladder) surgery. In the operating theatre, our client’s left arm was placed on a padded arm board and his right arm placed onto a white metal plate. The positioning of his right arm was uncomfortable and awkward with his right elbow higher than his shoulder. A general anaesthetic was administered and surgery was carried out. Immediately after the surgery, our client experienced numbness in his right hand and elbow and pins and needles in the fingers of his right hand. He was discharged home but his symptoms continued. He was subsequently diagnosed with an ulnar nerve lesion in his right arm, and underwent two decompression operations in an attempt to improve his symptoms. Our client was left with permanent numbness in his right hand and elbow and pins and needles in the fingers of his right hand. He was unable to carry out everyday tasks using his right hand and relied on his wife for assistance. He had to adapt to life using his left hand to carry out certain tasks.
The Clinical Negligence Team brought a case against the Defendant hospital alleging that it negligently positioned our client’s right arm for the duration of the surgery causing damage to his ulnar nerve. The Defendant denied negligence but we achieved compensation for our client of £50,000 for his injuries despite this denial.
Hannah Blackwell, a Solicitor in the Clinical Negligence Team, acted for D, a female client, who suffered anaesthetic awareness during bariatric (weight loss) surgery. Unfortunately, the anaesthetic was not administered correctly and D experienced awareness. As a result she became stressed, went into atrial fibrillation and her surgery was cancelled and she was admitted to the Intensive Care Unit. While in the Intensive Care Unit D recalled some awareness during the procedure and was subsequently reviewed by a cardiologist who was able to reassure her that there had been no lasting damage to her heart.
The Clinical Negligence Team acted for D, and alleged that the Defendant hospital was negligent as they failed to administer anaesthetic correctly at the time of the bariatric surgery which resulted in D suffering from a psychiatric injury. The hospital admitted liability for D’s injuries and D received compensation of £15,000 for her pain and suffering as well as for future psychiatric treatment.