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What are Anaesthesia Errors?

Medical negligence claims can arise as a result anaesthesia errors, which occur when a health care practitioner fails to properly administer an anaesthetic.

Anaesthetics are used to put a patient to sleep or to cause a loss of sensation during surgery or medical treatment, and to provide pain relief.

Anaesthetics may be administered in many different settings, such as during surgery, during dental procedures, during child birth when an epidural or other pain relief is being administered or as part of a pain management programme.  

Usually, an anaesthetist controls the administration of anaesthetic. When a person is put to sleep during surgery, it is the anaesthetist’s job to ensure that the body continues to function by monitoring heart rate, blood pressure and oxygen levels. A patient is extremely vulnerable when under anaesthetic and relies completely on the anaesthetist to keep them safe from harm. 

Anaesthesia is a highly skilled area of medical practice and there are significant risks involved. Things can go wrong with devastating effects.

Some examples of anaesthesia errors are:

  • Anaesthetic being improperly injected into a nerve or the spinal cord, causing nerve damage, pain or even paralysis;
  • Failure to properly monitor a patient during surgery, resulting in, for example, changes in blood pressure or insufficient oxygen flow, resulting in brain damage or stroke;
  • Administering the incorrect drug;
  • Failure to properly assess a person pre-operatively, resulting in the incorrect dosage of anaesthetic being administered. Rarely, a person may become conscious during surgery because the appropriate level of anaesthetic has not been administered or maintained.

Do I have a claim?

Anaesthesia error does not always amount to medical negligence. To do so, it must be shown that:

  • in making the error, the medical practitioner did not exercise the reasonable skill, care or expertise to be expected of a medical practitioner of his or her position. Even if this is the case, it must also be shown that;
  • the error caused harm or injury to the patient beyond the underlying condition the patient was being treated for. In many cases, anaesthesia error does not result in any further material harm to a patient. In such cases, compensation would not be payable.

Get advice

Medical negligence is a particularly complex area of law and any potential claim must be investigated thoroughly. If you have been injured  or suffered damage as a result of an anaesthesia error and you think that you have a medical negligence claim,submit the contact us form or call us on 1800 555 777.