Compensation for anaesthetic errors and awareness
Anaesthetic awareness during surgical procedures can be extremely traumatic. If you've experienced this, contact a solicitor to find out if you have a valid claim
How Much Could You Claim?

Anaesthetic Awareness Compensation Claims

Having any form of surgery can feel like a daunting and nerve wracking occasion, but with excellent NHS healthcare system and world leading surgical teams, the UK benefits from some of the best care possible. Unfortunately, mistakes do still happen, and the consequences of these can be devastating to the patients and families involved, not least from a psychological point of view.

It may sound like something that only occurs in horror films, but occasionally complications with anaesthetic and an aesthetician error can lead a patient to wake up mid-surgery. This harrowing event can have a significant impact on a victim. If you have suffered from anaesthetic awareness and it can be proven that you were conscious whilst surgery was taking place, you may be eligible to make a claim for compensation.

How does anaesthetic awareness happen?

Anaesthetic awareness occurs when a patient has not received enough anaesthetic to maintain unconsciousness during the process of their surgery. Being conscious and aware during an operation can be terrifying and significantly damaging for a victim. This error can happen when an anaesthetist fails to calculate the required amount of anaesthetic or because of a fault in the machinery that administers the anaesthetic. In either case, you are protected by the law and entitled to claim compensation if you have been the victim of anaesthetic awareness and suffered an injury or illness as a result.

Clinical NegligenceMany other types of anaesthetic and anaesthetist errors can occur and cause harm to the patient involved. Some of the most common causes including:

  • Errors in the administration of general anaesthetics which result in temporary or permanent paralysis through damage to nerves and the spine. This type of error most often occurs during childbirth where an epidural has been used.
  • Errors in anaesthetic calculations or administration which subsequently leads to an induced coma, brain damage or even death.
  • Incorrectly calculating the required dose of anaesthetic which results in a patient suffering from avoidable pain during surgery.
  • Brain damage caused through errors in monitoring a patient’s condition, particularly breathing, throughout surgery. This can lead to oxygen starvation which will impact on brain functionality in the future.

The risks associated with local anaesthetics are lower than those with general anaesthetics, but errors in locals can also result in a host of health complications. Some of the most common problems that are presented to us by clients include:

  • Headaches
  • Blurred vision
  • Spasms in muscles
  • Seizures
  • Cardiac problems

If you have been the victim of any anaesthetic related error and the results have been a negative impact on your life, call 0800 678 1410 to discuss how an experienced injury solicitor can help you make a claim for compensation.

When can anaesthetic awareness or errors happen?

Anaesthetic awareness is not limited to during surgery times only and can happen after an operation, in the recovery room or intensive care when patients are sedated. Anaesthetic awareness is also known to have occurred when patients have been paralysed and intubated on life support machines. The Royal College of Anaesthetists is the professional body responsible for the establishment and the maintenance of standards in anaesthesia, critical care and pain medicine throughout the UK. This body offers guidelines to prevent anaesthetic awareness from occurring as well as ways in which professionals should respond in the event of errors.

To prove anaesthetic awareness, the solicitor must be able to confirm that the condition was suffered by the patient, and was not the result of dreams which can occur during surgery for a small percentage of patients. Some patients also confuse anaesthetic awareness for the times in which they are regaining consciousness and hear conversations or are aware of movements around them. With this in mind, establishing true anaesthetic awareness is a complicated process that will rely on expert medical evidence, but is key to making a successful compensation claim.

The number of people that experience some level of awareness while under anaesthetic is thought to be 1 or 2 per 1,000 people, although other surveys suggest the number is closer to 1 in 14,000. The Royal College of Anaesthetists states that open heart surgery, obstetric surgery and operations after major accidents are the procedures most likely to involve complaints of awareness.

How can I be sure that I was awake during surgery?

Some patients are immediately aware that they were awake during part of their surgery and so report their concerns right away. Other patients take longer to realise that they were awake during an operation, and it may be days or weeks before they are certain that they have been the victim of this type of negligence.

In order to establish that anaesthetic awareness has occurred, a well-established method known as the ‘Brice interview’ is usually employed. This process involved asking the patient the following questions:

  • What was the last thing you remember happening before you went to sleep?
  • What was the first thing you remember happening on waking?
  • Did you dream or have any other experiences while you were sleep?
  • What was the worst thing about your operation?
  • What was the next worse thing?

The answers and responses give to the above questions will help medical professionals and medical injury lawyers to establish the validity of a patient’s claim.

How much compensation can I claim?

The amount of compensation that is awarded to you will depend on the negative impact that the medical negligence has had on your life. Some of the common results and suffering that is inflicted on victims of this type of error include:

  • Stress and anxiety
  • Lack of confidence in future medical treatment
  • Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
  • Flashbacks
  • Recurring nightmares
  • Inability to work due to psychological damage

Your solicitor will be skilled in assessing all areas of suffering and loss in order to secure you the highest compensation award possible. They will work closely alongside you to support you with empathy and patience throughout your claim to ensure that accessing the compensation owed to you is as smooth as possible.

Solicitors offer clients an initial consultation that is free of charge where they will assess your case and answer any questions that you might have. To arrange your free case assessment, enter your details into the contact form below and a legal adviser will be in contact as soon as possible. Alternatively, call free on 0800 678 1410.