My friend woke up during an operation due to an anaesthesia error. She was in intense pain and could not alert the doctors. Can she claim compensation against the hospital?
An anaesthesia error which causes a patient to regain consciousness during a surgical procedure is fortunately very rare, but when it happens it can be one of the most frightening experiences it is possible to endure, and can cause major psychological problems as well as lead to complications with the surgical procedure. When an anaesthesia error is made, and a patient is not properly monitored, it is possible that they can recover consciousness, yet not be able to move their body or call for help. This is termed anaesthetic awareness. They may be fully aware of the procedure and experience tremendous pain, but usually there would be some indication that pain was being experienced, such as an increased heart rate, which should have been noticed by the anaesthetist.
Such errors can be made by the failure to calculate the level of anaesthetic required, or errors made in its administration. Following the procedure the patient is likely to suffer from severe psychological problems such as post traumatic stress disorder and severe anxiety attacks, which can be devastating for the victim and they may never fully recover from the experience.
While this may be a clear case of medical negligence on the part of the anaesthetist, and there has clearly been an injury and suffering, there is a strict time limit on initiating a claim for compensation. If your friend was under the age of 18 at the time of the operation, they will have until their 21st birthday to initiate a claim for compensation. Otherwise any anaesthesia error compensation claim must be made within 3 years of the date of the surgery. We strongly recommend that your friend contacts a medical negligence solicitor for advice on claiming anaesthesia error compensation. If she feels that they are unable to cope with the rigours of a trial or claim, it may be possible for a third party to represent her as a “litigation friend”, who would help her to get the compensation to which she is entitled for this severe medical error.