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Medical negligence

Anaesthetic negligence claims

Illnesses and injuries caused by anaesthetic negligence can be both traumatic and life-changing. If you’ve suffered as a result of medical negligence, Slater and Gordon’s specialist legal experts can help get the compensation you deserve.

Meet our medical negligence solicitors

Many of our lawyers are considered leaders in the field with a significant amount of expertise.

Emma Doughty, our Head of Medical Negligence

Emma Doughty

National and London Head of Medical Negligence

Ben Gent, our Principal Lawyer and Interim Head of Medical Negligence for Manchester

Ben Gent

Head of Medical Negligence - Manchester

Yvonne Agnew, our Head of Medical Negligence for Cardiff

Yvonne Agnew

Head of Medical Negligence - Cardiff

John Doyle, our Principal Lawyer for Medical Negligence

John Doyle

Head of Medical Negligence - Liverpool

One of the UK’s leading specialist law firms.

We are proud to have partnerships with national charities and be recognised in the latest legal directories.

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What is anaesthetic negligence?

Undergoing an operation or surgery can be a stressful time, and can cause many people to feel quite vulnerable, particularly where anaesthesia is concerned. Used to either numb parts of the body or induce sleep, the drug works by stopping nerve signals reaching the brain, preventing you from feeling any pain.

In such a vulnerable time, it is crucial that you have the upmost faith and trust in the medical professionals responsible for your care throughout the procedure. In the vast majority of cases, the anaesthesia is administered, and the operation is performed successfully.

However, there are times when mistakes are made by the anaesthesiologist, and the effects can be devastating. If you suffer a subsequent injury or illness or if you woke up during an operation, you may be entitled to claim anaesthetic compensation due to medical negligence.

Start your claim today

What are the different types of anaesthesia?

There are three different types of anaesthesia, which can be used individually or in combination. The anaesthetist will determine which type you need, depending upon the operation you’re due to undergo.

  • Local anaesthesia: this is used when only a small area of the body needs to be numbed. The patient will still be awake but should experience little to no pain throughout the procedure. This is typically only used for minor surgeries, or operations when the patient needs to remain awake (such as brain surgery).
  • Regional anaesthesia: this is a form of local anaesthesia, though affects a larger part of the body. A common example is an epidural, which is used to number to the lower half of the body during childbirth.
  • General anaesthesia: this is used for more serious operations and will render the patient unconscious for the duration of the procedure. The patient should feel no pain and have no awareness of the operation taking place. It will also prevent the patient from moving.

As with any other drug, anaesthetics carry a certain amount of risk, and this should be fully explained to you by your doctor before your operation. If you have been told you’ll be going under general anaesthetic, your doctor should also inform you of what this will involve, and run through your medical history, health and lifestyle to ensure you won’t be put at additional risk.

What are the risks of anaesthetic negligence?

During an operation, it is the job of the anaesthetist to not only administer the anaesthesia, but also to monitor you throughout the operation to ensure the drug works as it is supposed to and there are no complications.

While this may seem relatively straightforward, even minor mistakes can lead to serious injuries or complications. For example, mistakes that can led to avoidable injuries include:

  • Using the incorrect dosage of anaesthesia
  • Errors in administering the drug (for example, injection into the spinal cord or nerves)
  • Keeping the patient sedated for too long
  • Not administering the anaesthesia quickly enough
  • Failing to monitor the patient properly or respond to complications
  • Not explaining the risks of surgery and undergoing anaesthesia to the patient

The consequences of these mistakes can be severe and can result in various injuries for the patient that could have been avoided had adequate care been provided. For example:

  • Brain damage and stroke: this can happen if the patient’s blood pressure is not regulated properly, resulting in a lack of oxygen to the brain
  • Nerve damage and spinal cord injuries: if an anaesthetist mistakenly injects the drug into the spinal cord or nerves, it can cause serious injury and result in severe pain or disability
  • Anaesthetic awareness: when a patient finds themselves partially or fully awake during their operation, causing unnecessary physical and psychological trauma

What is anaesthetic awareness?

Anaesthetic awareness is a term used to describe a complication of general anaesthesia, in which the patient remains at least partially aware of their surroundings and experience. It is quite uncommon; according to a report carried out by the Association of Anaesthetists of Great Britain and Ireland, roughly 1 in 15,000 patients will experience anaesthesia awareness.

For many of those who experience anaesthetic awareness, the experience is quite brief, often less than five minutes, and may be limited to hearing noises or feeling touch. However, some have reported experiencing pain or paralysis, which can lead to further complications post-surgery, such as anxiety, issues sleeping, nightmares and flashbacks. In some cases, patients have developed post-traumatic stress disorder.

If you have experienced anaesthetic awareness, you may be entitled to compensation. Speak to a member of our medical negligence team to find out if you have a claim today.

How do I prove anaesthetic negligence?

To make a claim for anaesthetic negligence, you’ll need to prove that there has been a breach in the duty of care owed to you by the anaesthetist. You’ll also need to be able to prove that their negligence directly caused you illness or injury or caused you to feel pain during your operation (anaesthetic awareness).

To do this, we’ll help you collect the evidence you need to support your claim, including medical records, witness statements and an independent medical assessment.

Anna's story - Brain injury from anaesthetic

"I learnt to walk and talk again against all odds after mistakes were made in my appendix surgery."

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Why should I choose Slater and Gordon?

We understand that suffering from anaesthetic negligence can be a scary and stressful time, and it can leave you wondering what comes next. At Slater and Gordon, our anaesthetic negligence solicitors have many years’ experience in handling a range of cases, from the straightforward to the complex, and work hard to ensure our clients not only achieve the best financial outcome but can rest easy throughout the process knowing everything is well taken care of.

Our industry-leading team are consistently ranked highly in independent legal directories, such as Chambers and Partners, and the Legal 500, and are proud to have helped numerous clients achieve the compensation they deserve. Our team members also include trained nurses and medical professionals who provide us with expert knowledge in-house, helping us to secure the best possible outcome and provide clients with access to high-quality treatment and rehabilitation. This means our clients can focus on their recovery with some of the best care available, while we handle their claim.

To start your claim, speak to a member of our team by contacting us online or calling 0330 041 5869.

Talk to us about your case

Call us now on:   0330 041 5869

Why choose Slater and Gordon?

No Win No Fee

We offer 'No Win No Fee' funding on cases of medical negligence, meaning there's no financial risk to you.

Talk to the experts

We have teams of legal experts who specialise in representing those who’ve suffered injuries as a result of medical negligence.

In-house medical experts

Our in house medical team provide us with advice and assistance allowing us to determine when and where your medical treatment became substandard.

Your local law firm

We’re a reputable National law firm with expert lawyers in local areas across England, Scotland and Wales.

Speak to one of our medical negligence experts today

Call us now on:   0330 041 5869

Frequently asked questions

Is there a time limit for pursuing an anaesthetic negligence claim?

An anaesthetic negligence claim must be brought within three years from the date the negligence occurred, or the date you were first aware that you had suffered an injury or illness as a result.

There are some exceptions to this rule, however, so if you believe you have an anaesthetic negligence claim, it’s important that you seek advice from a solicitor who specialises in medical negligence cases as soon as possible, as they will be able to provide further guidance based on your circumstances.

How much compensation could I receive from an anaesthetic negligence claim?

Every anaesthesia settlement case is different, and the final amount of compensation awarded will be based on the severity of the injury and the affect the injury has had on your life.

Additionally, you’ll also be able to claim for any lost earnings, any long-term care, rehabilitation and any necessary house adaptations to maximise the chance of recovery and independent living.

To establish your full legal position, call us on 0330 041 5869.

Can I claim anaesthetic negligence compensation on behalf of a loved one?

In certain circumstances, it may be possible for you to make an anaesthetic negligence claim on behalf of a loved one. For example, you may be able to claim on behalf of a child under the age of 18, or for someone who lacks the mental capacity to be able to submit a claim for themselves.

For more information about claiming compensation on behalf of a loved one, visit our claims guide page here.

Can I make an anaesthetic negligence claim against the NHS?

Yes. All medical professionals, including anaesthetists, have a duty of care to their patients, whether they work for the NHS or for a private company. Where that duty of care has been breached, resulting in an injury or illness that could otherwise have been avoided, you may be entitled to make a claim.

Can I make a No Win No Fee anaesthetic negligence claim?

The majority of our anaesthetic negligence claims are funded by a conditional fee agreement, otherwise known as a No Win No Fee agreement. This means if you lose your case, you won't have to pay any fees and therefore, there’s no financial risk to you. For further information, about No Win No Fee agreements, read our medical negligence fees page.

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