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Negligent Administration Of Anaesthetic
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. 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
Local anaesthetic problems can include:
- a numb tongue
- 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).
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.
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.
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