Have you been injured as the result of complications related to anaesthetic? Did these complications arise because the doctor treating you neglected their duty of care? If so, you could be entitled to make a claim for the additional harm caused to you as a result of medical negligence.
Anaesthetic is important in the field of medicine. It numbs pain and discomfort and allows various procedures to be carried out. But mistakes in anaesthetic can cause serious problems and complications. If the correct amount of anaesthetic is not administered, then this could cause the patient to wake up or regain sensation when undergoing an operation. You could also suffer an allergic reaction from anaesthetic. In some instances, complications arising from anaesthetic negligence can be fatal.
Anaesthetic Negligence Compensation Claims
When we seek medical attention, we expect to receive a minimum standard of care. When the care we receive falls below this standard, this is referred to as medical negligence. If you have been injured, or if your condition has worsened as a result of medical negligence, you could claim compensation. To find out more about how you could do this, read through the rest of this guide or use the contact details below to get in touch with our team.
Select A Section
- What Is An Anaesthetic Negligence Compensation Claim?
- What Is Anaesthetic?
- How Does Anaesthetic Work?
- Are There Different Types Of Anaesthetic?
- Common Side Effects Of Being Anaesthetised
- Types Of Mistakes Which Anaesthetist Could Make
- Common Injuries Which Anaesthetic Negligence Could Cause
- Anaesthetic Awareness
- Anaesthetic Nerve And Spinal Cord Injuries
- Anaesthetic Brain Damage And Stroke
- What is The Safe Anaesthesia Liaison Group (SALG)?
- Time Limits To Claim For The Negligent Usage Of Anaesthetic
- What Are Anaesthetic Negligence Compensation Claims Worth?
- No Win No Fee Anaesthetic Negligence Compensation Claims
- Get Help From Our Team
- Anaesthetic Usage Statistics
- Helpful Links
- FAQs About Negligent Use Of Anaesthetic
Doctors have a duty of care to every patient that they treat. This means that they are expected to provide a minimum standard of care to all patients. The NHS Constitution outlines the rights of NHS patients; however, private healthcare providers must also deliver this minimum standard of care.
If the negligence of an anaesthetist has caused you to be injured during surgery or has made your condition worse than it otherwise would have been if you’d received the correct standard of care, you could be entitled to make a claim for compensation. This compensation could take into account the pain and suffering you have experienced as a result of the medical negligence that occurred. You could also claim back costs and expenses incurred as a direct result of your injury or worsening condition.
It’s important to note that just because you suffered adverse effects following anaesthetic does not mean that the healthcare professional in question was negligent. Sometimes, complications can arise even when the appropriate standard of care is administered. You will only be able to claim if you can show that a breach in duty of care directly caused your injury or worsening of your condition.
An anaesthetic is a medicine that induces a state of anaesthesia, which means “loss of sensation”. The effects of anaesthetics can range from numbness in a certain area of the body to complete loss of consciousness.
Anaesthetics are often used to perform surgical procedures. Local anaesthetics induce numbness in certain body parts for localised surgery, whereas general anaesthetics cause the patient to be totally unconscious for the duration of the operation.
Anaesthetic can be made from different types of chemicals. Historically chemicals like chloroform, trichloroethylene, and nitrous oxide (sometimes known as laughing gas and still commonly used as a dentistry anaesthetic) were used. Most contemporary anaesthetics are made from a combination of halothane, enflurane, isoflurane, and methoxyflurane.
Anaesthetics induce either numbness or total loss of sensation and consciousness. They block certain nerve signals from reaching the brain in order to stop you from being awake or aware of certain sensations. This enables surgical procedures to be performed without pain.
There are two commonly used kinds of anaesthetics; general anaesthetics and local anaesthetics. General anaesthetics induce a state of full unconsciousness and can be administered through a mask or intravenously. Local anaesthetic can be injected or applied to the skin in order to induce numbness in the area where a procedure is to be performed.
A precise amount of anaesthetic must be used in order for the patient to lose awareness for the duration of the procedure while not spending too much time unconscious or developing long-term effects of the anaesthetic. This has to be calculated using the patient’s weight, body mass and health information. The application of anaesthetic is a skill that certain doctors, known as anaesthetists, specialise in. Anaesthetists are trained by, and members of, the Royal College of Anaesthetists.
As well as the general and local anaesthetics, there are also other categories of anaesthetics. These are designed to cause differing degrees of loss of sensation and awareness, depending on what is appropriate for the procedure being performed. The different kinds of anaesthetics are listed below.
- Regional anaesthetics are a kind of local anaesthetic given to a particular region of the body. They’re used when more extensive numbness than can be achieved with a local anaesthetic is required.
- Epidural anaesthetics induce loss of sensation in the lower half of the body while the patient retains awareness and sensation from the waist up. They are often used to relieve the pain of childbirth.
- Spinal anaesthetics. Anaesthetic is used to induce numbness in the lower parts of the body, in particular the lower back. Spinal anaesthetics usually last around 3 hours.
- Sedation is used to induce sleep or drowsiness. It may be used when performing a procedure that might be painful or distressing to keep the patient calm.
No matter what kind of anaesthetic is being administered, medical professionals have a duty of care to the patients they treat. If you have been injured or your condition has been made worse because this duty of care was breached, you may be owed compensation. Get in touch with our team to find out more.
There are some common side effects of being under anaesthetics. You should be given a warning of these before undergoing a procedure. Most of these symptoms will not last long and do not pose a risk to your health. In some instances, you can be given treatment for anaesthetic side effects.
Some common side effects include:
- Dizziness and faintness
- Suffering from headaches
- Feeling itchy
- Feeling cold or shivery
- Aches and pains
- Difficulty going to the toilet
It is recommended that you report any of these symptoms immediately if you experience them after your procedure. While they may not be an indicator that something is wrong, you should always communicate how you feel with your doctor so your condition can be monitored if necessary.
Administering anaesthetics to a patient is a complicated task, and each step has to be carried out correctly. Anaesthetists receive specialist training, but if they breach their duty of care and act negligently, then complications could arise.
Some examples of actions that could be considered negligent include:
- Taking down the patients health details incorrectly. This could result in the wrong dosage of anaesthetic being administered.
- Not properly monitoring the patients’ health signs, i.e. their oxygen levels.
- Leaving the patient unattended while they are anaesthetised, meaning that an adverse reaction is missed.
- Failing to perform proper checks and maintenance on the equipment.
- Contamination of the anaesthetic delivery equipment.
As we have already mentioned, medical negligence is not simply a case of a mistake occurring in medical treatment. In order to be considered negligent, the level of care you received must have fallen below an acceptable level.
To determine whether the actions of a doctor could be classed as negligent, courts will use something called the Bolam Test. This is where a panel of the medical professional’s peers are asked to confirm whether or not the care administered was of an acceptable level.
If they confirm that it was of an acceptable level, then the doctor would not be considered negligent. If the panel of peers say that the doctor did not act in an acceptable manner, then this would be classed as negligence.
Anaesthetic is a crucial tool for modern medicine. Many commonplace and life-saving medical procedures would not be possible without their use. However, it has the potential to cause harm if it is not administered correctly.
Some of the conditions that might emerge as a result of anaesthetic negligence could include:
- Injuries to the airways and the mouth caused by incorrect intubation
- Infection caused by contaminated anaesthetic equipment
- Heart attacks
- Injuries to the spinal cord
- Loss of bodily functions
Any symptoms you feel after you have been anaesthetised should be immediately reported to your doctor. It’s important to keep in mind that just because you experienced one of the complications listed above, it does not mean that you were the victim of negligence. In some instances, complications can arise even when a doctor has administered an appropriate level of care.
In the following sections, we will look at a more detailed breakdown of the different kinds of injuries that could occur as a result of anaesthetic negligence. If you would like to know more about pursuing a claim for medical negligence, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with our team for free legal advice.
One possible consequence of anaesthetic negligence is anaesthetic awareness. This is where the patient retains awareness during surgery or regains consciousness sooner than intended.
Anaesthetic awareness may not result in any pain but involves the patient being able to remember parts of the operation. Their memories may include things like a brief recollection of being intubated or hearing someone speaking. In some cases, they may recall being unable to move.
It can be a traumatic experience, with a minority of patients experiencing symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder afterwards. These symptoms can include sleeplessness, nightmares, flashbacks, anxiety, and depression.
Anaesthetic awareness is not always the result of medical negligence. For instance, anaesthetists rely on machines to deliver anaesthetic to your body. If this machine malfunctions despite being well-maintained and having been checked before the operation, you could become temporarily aware while the anaesthetists work out what the problem is.
However, if you have been caused harm because of a breach of duty of care, this is classed as medical negligence. As a result, you may be able to claim.
Some forms of anaesthetic, including spinal anaesthetics, are administered via an injection to the spinal column. These injections must be carried out carefully. Injections can damage the nerves in the spinal cord. Both the needle itself and the anaesthetic being injected could cause permanent damage to the nerves in the spine.
The spinal cord contains bundles of nerves that send messages to the rest of the body. If these nerves are damaged, this means that the messages from the brain to the rest of the body may be disrupted. Nerve injury could cause things like paralysis, lost or altered sensation or loss of control over your bladder or bowels.
If you have suffered because of damage to your spinal cord resulting from medical negligence, you could be owed compensation. Speak to our team today for free legal advice about the best steps to take.
Anaesthesia can cause a drop in blood pressure. Your anesthetist should monitor your blood pressure amongst other bodily functions to determine how much anaesthetic to administer.
Sometimes, a change in blood pressure leading to a stroke could occur even when an appropriate level of care is being administered. But when it’s the result of a breach of duty of care, this could entitle you to compensation.
Its purpose is to:
- Monitor and study the practice of anaesthetics
- Record and public research on anaesthetics safety issues
- Provide information to all practitioners and healthcare providers on safety matters concerning the use of anaesthetics.
- Promote the safe practice of anaesthetics.
You can report a patient safety issue through their website, which can then be looked into. However, the SALG will not be able to award you compensation for any suffering you have experienced because of anaesthetic negligence.
There is generally a three-year time limit to starting medical negligence claims. However, there are some exceptions to this limitation period.
For instance, if you were under the age of 18 when you were harmed by medical negligence, you can only make a claim on your own behalf once you reach adulthood. The three-year time limit would run from the day you turn 18, meaning you would have until you turn 21 to make a claim.
Before you turn 18, a litigation friend can claim on your behalf. This is someone who acts in your interests in the claims process. A litigation friend can be a family member, older friend or even a solicitor. While you’re under 18, the time limit is suspended.
Similarly, a litigation friend can claim on behalf of someone who lacks the mental capacity to do so themselves. While the injured person lacks the mental capacity to claim, the time limit is indefinitely suspended. It begins again in the event that the person regains the mental capacity to claim on their own behalf.
If you would like to know more about the time limits that apply to medical negligence claims, why not contact our team today? They can offer you free legal advice about any aspect of the claims process.
The amount of compensation you could be entitled to claim depends on how you’ve been affected by the negligence you have experienced. More serious, long-lasting effects will generally attract higher awards than effects that you recover from fairly quickly.
The table below includes examples of the amount of money you could be entitled to claim for anaesthetic negligence related health problems. These figures represent general damages, the compensation awarded for the injury itself. They are taken from guideline compensation brackets provided by the Judicial College.
|Severe psychiatric damage||£51,460 to £108,620|
|Moderate psychiatric damage||£5,500 to £17,900|
|Severe PTSD||£56,180 to £94,470|
|Moderate PTSD||£7,680 to £21,730|
|Tetraplegia||£304,630 to £379,100|
|Paraplegia||£205,580 to £266,740|
|Very severe brain damage||£264,650 to £379,100|
|Moderately severe brain damage||£205,580 to £264,650|
|Moderate Brain Damage (i)||£140,870 to £205,580|
|Moderate Brain Damage (ii)||£85,150 to £140,870|
|Moderate Brain Damage (iii)||£40,410 to £85,150|
|Less Severe Brain Damage||£14,380 to £40,410|
As well as the compensation for the injury itself, you could also be entitled to special damages. This is compensation awarded to cover the financial losses that you’ve incurred as a direct result of the negligence you have experienced.
Special damages can cover things like income lost due to taking time off work or the cost of care and of medical bills. You will need to provide evidence of your special damages, as otherwise, it will be very difficult for you to claim them back.
A No Win No Fee agreement is a contract between you and your solicitor. It states the conditions that they need to meet before receiving payment from you. With a No Win No Fee agreement, you won’t be asked to pay anything in order for them to start work on your claim while it’s ongoing or in the event that it is unsuccessful.
If your claim does succeed, a small success fee will be deducted from your compensation award. This is legally capped, ensuring that you always get the majority of the compensation that you’re awarded.
All of the solicitors on our panel can offer representation on a No Win No Fee basis. If you would like more information about making a No Win No Fee claim with our solicitors, please get in contact with us today using the contact details provided.
Our team can help by answering questions that you might have about making anaesthetic negligence claims. They can inform you of whether you could be entitled to make a compensation claim and give you a rough estimate of how much your claim could be worth.
If you’re eligible to claim, they may be able to put you in touch with a medical negligence solicitor from our panel of lawyers. Our team can be reached through our online contact form, by calling
0800 652 3087 or through our pop-up live chat.
In 2013 anaesthetics were used in over three and a half million instances in the NHS. 76.9% of these cases were general anaesthetics, 8.6% were sedation, and 14.5% were procedures conducted as the patient was awake.
22.1% of anaesthetic use was in orthopaedics trauma, 16.1% was in general surgery, and 9.6% was in gynaecology. 93.8% of anaesthetics use was in surgery. just nine patients intraoperative patients under general anaesthetics out of 15 460 died.
How long will my case take?
The answer to this question largely depends on the circumstances of the negligence and whether or not the defendant party denies responsibility. Simple claims could be settled in a matter of months, whereas more complex claims may take longer.
Do claims and complaints affect how you are treated?
You are still entitled to the same level of care if you have made a medical negligence claim against the NHS or a private healthcare provider. They cannot discriminate against patients who have made medical negligence claims.
Can I keep my medical history private?
Your medical records could provide important evidence to support your medical negligence claim. While you are able to ask that your medical records be kept private, this could affect your ability to claim and may result in your case being rejected.
Can I claim for harm caused to another person?
You could make a claim on behalf of someone else in certain circumstances. You could act as a litigation friend to claim on behalf of a child or a family member who is unable to make a claim on their own behalf. You could also claim on behalf of a loved one who had died as a result of anaesthetic negligence.
Thank you for reading our guide on anaesthetic negligence compensation claims.
Guide by Jack
Checked by Fern