Claims for Being Aware During Anaesthesia

Around one in 1,000 people report some degree of awareness during anaesthesia. While some people do not feel anything physically, others can experience excruciating pain and fear. If you have experienced this, making a claim can help to atone for the suffering caused and can help you pay for any counselling you may need as a result. Let JMW provide the advice and representation you need.

If you or someone you know has been unfortunate enough to go through such a traumatic experience, speak to us today to discuss making an anaesthetic negligence claim. Call us on 0800 054 6512 or complete our online enquiry form and we will get back to you as soon as we can.

Anaesthetist Responsibilities

An anaesthetist should carefully monitor his or her patient and remain alert to the risk that the patient may be aware of what is happening, and, in the worst case scenario, also be able to feel the surgeon's knife. Often in these situations, the patient has no way of making their distress known because he or she will experience paralysis from the drugs. The operation cannot continue in such circumstances, so anaesthetists must make regular checks to prevent this situation from arising.

Anaesthetic Awareness Claims

Because of the long-term problems that victims can face, compensation settlements for this type of medical negligence can be significant. Here is a case study about our experience with anaesthetic awareness claims:

A 29 year old woman had a caesarean section and sterilisation performed under general anaesthetic. The anaesthetic was as light as possible so that the baby would be fully alert when it was born.

The woman claimed that she was awake during the whole operation and could feel everything that was done to her and could hear the theatre staff talking, but had no way of making her distress known.

Since the experience she has developed severe post-traumatic stress disorder and has had great difficulty bonding with the baby.

She was awarded damages of £200,000 because the anaesthetist should have been aware of the possibility of anaesthetic awareness and should have noticed what was happening.

Anaesthetic Awareness Explained

Anaesthetic awareness involves a person being either conscious or semiconscious while undergoing an operation. This happens most commonly in operations where, for safety reasons, the anaesthetist uses a minimum amount of anaesthetic. Examples of when this might occur include:

  • Caesarean section
  • Open-heart surgery
  • Some emergency surgery

Some people may be aware of what is happening but feel no pain, while others can experience extreme pain and fear, but cannot convey this to anyone because of the paralysing effects of the anaesthetic drugs. This is a truly terrifying experience that can, in certain cases, have long-term psychological consequences.

The Impact

Waking up during surgery is the stuff of nightmares for most people. Although overall incidents of anaesthetic awareness are low, even one case of this type is one too many. The patient may experience after-effects, including:

  • Daily flashbacks
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Deep psychological scars

With the number of operations carried out daily by the NHS likely to steadily increase, a lackadaisical attitude to anaesthetic awareness may cause the number incidents to rise.

Why Choose JMW?

JMW has one of the most experienced and respected medical negligence teams in the UK. We offer free advice on medical negligence law, how much your compensation might be worth and whether you have a good case. We are able to deal with cases using a no win, no fee scheme where appropriate.

We have helped numerous people who have suffered because of anaesthetic awareness and we understand just how traumatic an experience it can be. As such, we always take the time to listen to you and alleviate any concerns you may have.

Several of our solicitors are part of the Action against Medical Accidents (AvMA) solicitor panel and the Law Society's specialist panel for clinical negligence. Such is our team's standing that it is widely considered to be among the best clinical negligence teams across England and Wales.

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Contact us today so we can discuss your situation in more detail and work out the right steps to take next. For a free initial assessment of your case, please fill out our online enquiry form. Alternatively, for further information on all of JMW's clinical and medical negligence services, please contact us on 0800 054 6512.


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