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Anaesthetic awareness compensation claims

When you undergo surgery, you put your trust in doctors and anaesthesiologists to treat you properly. Unfortunately doctors and anaesthesiologists are not as infallible as we would all like them to be.

Medical professionals are over-stretched, and resources are tight. Diagnoses are often very complicated, and treatments can be highly technical and complex. Many of these carry some level of risk and most patients are warned of these risks before treatment.

One of the most alarming mistakes that a patient can suffer during surgery is that of anaesthetic awareness.

As a result of anaesthetic awareness patients often suffer from intense pain and crippling psychological disturbances.

If you believe that your anaesthetist was negligent and failed to take proper care of your medical welfare, then you may be able to claim compensation.

What is anaesthetic awareness?

Anaesthetic awareness is when you become conscious during your operation and can remember things that happened.

This is an uncommon event but can be very distressing.

Anaesthetic awareness could occur because you are not receiving enough anaesthetic during the course of the operation to keep you unconscious. This could happen because the anaesthetist misjudges the amount of anaesthetic needed to keep you unconscious. It could also happen if the equipment that delivers the anaesthetic is malfunctioning. It could also be a combination of these two factors.

What causes anaesthetic awareness?

Anaesthetic awareness causes can be categorised as follows:

  • Faulty technique 70%
  • Failure to check equipment 20%
  • Faulty equipment 2.5%
  • Justified risk taking 2.5%

Awareness during anaesthesia is a problem that surgeons are well aware of and whilst some people are resilient to anaesthetics, there are a number of things that can be done to reduce the incidence including:

  • Obtaining a thorough preoperative history
  • Adequate premedication
  • All apparatus should be checked to exclude faults and malfunctions
  • The proper use of all new or unfamiliar equipment should be fully understood
  • All syringes should be labelled, to ensure the right drug is given at the right time
  • Vaporizers should contain sufficient chemicals and monitoring devices should be used to detect inadequate concentration
  • Opiate anaesthesia may need to be supplemented for certain resilient patients

If you have experienced anaesthetic awareness during an operation and wish to seek legal advice in relation to this, contact a member of our specialist team today.

Our experience with anaesthetic awareness claims

Over the years the medical negligence experts at Hugh James have successfully recovered damages for many patients and have become experts in this field of medical negligence.

We have access to the best specialist medical experts to enable us to obtain evidence of past and possible future needs to ensure that you are adequately compensated for the disability and frustrations that you suffer.

We treat every client with sensitivity and care, whilst aiming at the same time to deliver results including the highest financial settlement possible.

We are able to assist you on a no win, no fee basis.

If you or a member of your family has suffered as a result of anaesthetic negligence, contact our friendly and approachable team of solicitors today.

If after talking to us, you decide not to take matters further you are under no obligation to do so and you will not be charged for our initial advice session.

We are dedicated to your best interests and can advise you on how to proceed.

Key contact

Ruth Powell


Ruth is a Partner and Head of our Clinical Negligence Department. She has exclusively practised in clinical negligence since qualifying in 1995 and has a wealth of experience in complex and high value clinical negligence claims.

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