Anaesthetic Negligence

What Is Anaesthetic Negligence

Being anaesthetised is a complicated process but anaesthetists are highly trained medical professionals with extremely in depth knowledge. However, mistakes are made and problems do occur. Anaesthesia errors can be devastating: they can cause permanent or semi-permanent paralysis, brain damage, anaesthetic awareness, and in serious cases, death.

The anaesthetist's job requires preparation of the patient for surgery, careful balancing of dosages and monitoring of the patient whilst they are anaesthetised amongst other tasks. All in all it is a job which requires constant concentration by the anaesthetist. If your anaesthetist or the anaesthetist of a loved one has lost concentration or made a mistake during the carrying out of their job role which has resulted in an injury, you may have been subject to medical negligence.

Types of Anaesthetic

There are a number of different types of anaesthetic which you may come into contact with when you are hospitalised, and each one has its own specific issues. Anaesthetics block the nerve signals to your brain which cause pain.

General Anaesthetic: Blocks the signals from all of your nerves. When you are under general anaesthetic you are completely unconscious and can feel no pain. You are put under general anaesthetic when you have a serious operation, or an operation which would be incredibly painful without it. Commonly a liquid which is injected or gas which is inhaled.

Local Anaesthetic: Local anaesthetic makes you lose the sensation in a specific area of your body. You will stay awake during the procedure. Local anaesthetics often come in a spray or gel and are applied to the region where they are required.

Also included in the category of local anaesthetic procedures are:

  • Regional Anaesthetic: Numbs a large area of the body, such as an entire limb. Often used after surgery. The anaesthetic will be injected into a specific nerve.
  • Spinal Anaesthetic: spinal anaesthesia is used to numb the lower half of the body. It results in loss of sensation and loss of muscle control. If injected too high up the spine it may cause inability to breath and loss of control of heart rate. High injections of spinal anaesthetic may cause spinal nerve damage therefore are not advised.
  • Epidural Anaesthetic: Differs to a spinal anaesthetic in terms of the cavity in the spine it is injected into, the space is much larger for an epidural so therefore is a larger dose. An epidural does not cause loss of muscle movement, only removal of sensation.

Problems and Complications with Anaesthetic

Local anaesthetic

Problems with local anaesthetic can include:

  • a numb tongue
  • dizziness
  • blurred vision
  • twitching muscles

These are not serious complications but should not be ignored as sometimes they can progress and result in serious complications such as seizures and cardiac arrest (heart attack).

General Anaesthetic

Serious complications associated with general anaesthetics are very rare (occurring in less than one case for every 10,000 anaesthetics given). However, possible complications include:

  • Permanent nerve damage: this can cause paralysis or numbness.
  • Anaphylactic shock: a serious allergic reaction to the anaesthetic.
  • Death: this is rare, approximately one death occurs for every 100,000 general anaesthetics given, according to NHS statistics.
  • Being able to feel pain when you should be numb: being 'awake' during the operation.

Serious Errors

Other anaesthetic errors can have life changing physical effects such as brain damage. If you have suffered an anaesthetic error which has led to a temporary, psychological or physical injury, you may qualify to receive compensation for the negligence of your anaesthetist. If a loved one has suffered following an anaesthetist's negligence you may be able to make a compensation claim on their behalf. This is possible if they are still with us but living with their injuries, or if they have sadly passed away.

You may be able to make a medical negligence claim should you have experienced side effects from your anaesthetic which were not dealt with appropriately. You may also be able to claim should your anaesthetist have made a mistake with dosage, or was negligent in another way which led to your side effects.

What are the Costs?

1stClaims does not charge you for using our service and all initial enquiries with our Solicitors are also free of charge, so rest assured, this initial step of making an enquiry will not cost you anything.

Once one of our Solicitors has assessed the merits of your enquiry they will make a judgement on the likely chances of bringing a successful claim and if the prospects are good, they will normally offer to take your case on a No Win No Fee basis. NOTE: If your case is successful your Solicitor will deduct up to a maximum of 25% of your final settlement or compensation award as payment for their fees. You can find out more about No Win No Fee arrangements and the potential costs that can be incurred by clicking here.

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How 1stClaims Can Help

Claims made against anaesthetists can be differing in severity - with the most severe claims being claim made for compensation for the death of a loved one following anaesthetic error. For this reason, 1st Claims completely understands that medical negligence claims of this type can be extremely difficult. Our team is specialised in dealing with cases of this sort so will be able to provide you with the support you need at this time

1st Claims will be by your side throughout every step of your medical negligence claim. If you think you or a loved one may have been a victim of anaesthetic negligence the first step you need to take is to pick up the phone and dial 0800 2888 693 (from a mobile click to call: 01348 630 720) or click here and fill in an online enquiry. All initial enquiries are offered to you free of charge so you can discuss your potential anaesthetist's negligence claim with us without any added financial pressure. If you decide to make a claim through us we will put you in touch with a specialist anaesthetic negligence lawyer who will be able to deal with your claim with the expertise you need. Our aim is to provide you with high quality legal advice, tailored completely to you.

Making an Anaesthetist Negligence Claim

Once you have established whether or not your claim is likely to be viable, the claiming process is extremely simple.

Firstly, make a direct enquiry. If you decide to make an anaesthetic negligence claim with 1st Claims all initial anaesthetist negligence enquiries are offered completely free of charge. You will simply need to pick up the phone and dial 0800 2888 693 (from a mobile click to call: 01348 630 720) or fill in an online enquiry today to begin the claiming process.

Secondly, ensure you make an enquiry within the correct deadline. A medical negligence claim must be made within 3 years of the date of the incident that compensation is being claimed for.

Thirdly, sit back and relax. A specialist lawyer will take care of your case and guide you every step of the way. You will simply need to fill in any forms they send you and attend any interviews or medical assessments they organise for you. If you have a valid claim the compensation you rightly deserve should soon be on its way.

Further Reading about this Topic

Types of Anaesthetic Negligence Claims

Claims related to anaesthetist negligence are generally based on incorrect dosage amounts, badly administered medical care or negligent monitoring of the patient whilst in theatre.

Viable Claims

First of all, you must find out whether or not the claim you are wishing to make is viable. In any profession, mistakes do sometimes occur; this is an inevitability of life. However, some mistakes could have been avoided and are solely down to the negligence of one individual - in this case an anaesthetist. For a claim to be viable it must be considered that your anaesthetist acted in way that a reasonable body of medical professionals would not have and that their actions directly caused you or your loved one harm. Proving this is how your medical negligence lawyer will win compensation for you if your case is successful in court.

Common anaesthetist negligence claims

1. Temporary or permanent paralysis: wrongly administered anaesthesia can cause lasting nerve damage or spinal damage
2. Fatality: wrongly administered anaesthesia can result in coma, and in serious cases, fatality. If your loved one passed away following an anaesthetist's negligence you will be able to make a claim on their behalf.
3. Brain damage: usually caused by lack of oxygen to the brain due to a failure to correctly monitor breathing during surgery or due to a failure to ascertain the patient suffered respiratory problems prior to administration of anaesthesia.
4. Pain: due to too little local anaesthetic being administered or due to anaesthesia wearing off too soon allowing the patient to feel pain during surgery.
5.< Anaesthetic awareness: this is a rare, but serious, occurrence. Anaesthetic awareness leaves the patient paralysed but completely aware of the operation which is taking place. This can have serious and lasting psychological repercussions for the individual.
6. Other physical injury claims: for example, throat injuries causes by intubation errors.

These claims are often caused via the following errors:-

  • Failure to administer correct dosages of anaesthesia
  • Incorrect monitoring during surgery
  • Badly administered medical care
  • Failure to recognise complications during anaesthesia

All of these errors can result in the injury of the patient. Depending upon the size of the error which has been made the injuries resulting from anaesthetic errors can be broadly different in effect. Some adverse effects - such as temporary paralysis - may wear off rapidly, leading to lengthened hospitalisation but not leading to a change in lifestyle for the sufferer. Other anaesthetic errors, such as anaesthetic awareness, can lead to heavily adverse psychological effects such as insomnia, nightmares and depression

Case Study

Medical negligence takes many forms and even those on the apparent peripheries of surgical procedure have their part to play. A woman from Ilkley is suing a consultant anaesthetist over alleged medical negligence accusations. Moira McKelvie's claim is that, whilst undergoing surgery on her left breast, she received a number of personal injuries at the hands of the consultant. The consultant, Dr Thomas Hollis, is accused of not carrying out a paravertebral block properly and failing to administer the correct anaesthesia for the procedure. Although the surgery took place in 2008, Ms McKelvie claims that she is still suffering as a result of the alleged injuries and is launching a claim for over £300,000.

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