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Anaesthetic Awareness

Anaesthetic awareness (awake and in pain during op)


Duncan Lewis Clinical Negligence Solicitors – Anaesthetic Awareness Claims


“I was awake for part of my operation and in pain.”


Waking up during a surgical procedure is rare – but it can happen and patients may feel pain as a result of anaesthetic failures.


Anaesthetic Awareness Claims include:


  • Epidural claims – patients always remain awake during epidurals, but when an epidural injection to numb pain in childbirth or surgery fails, patients can be left in terrible pain and distress
  • Local anaesthetic claims – patients given a local anaesthetic are awake, but when local anaesthetics fail in minor surgery, dental surgery or cosmetic surgery, patients can be left in pain and are not always able to convey this to their surgeon, doctor or dentist
  • Regional anaesthesia claims – patients remain awake with regional anaesthetics used for a larger or deeper area of the body, meaning that patients not properly anaesthetised can feel pain
  • Intravenous sedation claims – patients sedated for cosmetic procedures and routine medical tests like a flexible sigmoidoscopy or colonoscopy are not actually asleep, but can still experience intense pain and anxiety if not sedated properly
  • General anaesthetic claims – patients are unconscious under a general anaesthetic, but if a patient regains consciousness during surgery, they are most likely to be paralysed with eyes taped shut and a tube down their throat, unable to tell medical staff they are conscious and in pain.


Before an anaesthetic is administered, an evaluation of a patient’s health must be made. In the case of general anaesthetics, patients undergo a very thorough pre-operative evaluation, including a range of tests to assess a patient’s overall health – and any potential risk factors, such as a pre-existing medical condition.


The anaesthetist will need to be aware of any issues which could make inserting a tube in the patient’s airways more difficult, such as a small mouth.


During surgery, theatre staff must also make sure they monitor the anaesthesia machine delivering anaesthetic to the patient.


However, despite extensive pre-operative and theatre checks for patients undergoing a general anaesthetic, the Royal College of Anaesthetists estimates that around 150 patients every year will wake up or have some degree of anaesthetic awareness during surgery, including patients who hear theatre staff discussing their surgery or who experience pain.


Duncan Lewis Clinical Negligence Solicitors can advise patients who were conscious for part of their operation and in pain or distress on how to make no win no fee Anaesthetic Awareness Claims for compensation.


Making Anaesthetic Awareness Claims


Under the UK Limitation Act 1980, clinical negligence claimants have three years from the date of injury in which to make no win no fee Anaesthetic Awareness Claims – including medical negligence claims for:

  • Failures in epidurals
  • Failures in local anaesthetics
  • Failures in regional anaesthetics
  • Failures in intravenous sedation; and
  • Failures in general anaesthetics.


Duncan Lewis Clinical Negligence Solicitors – No win no fee claims


Duncan Lewis is one of the UK’s leading firms of clinical negligence solicitors and can advise NHS patients and private patients on making no win no fee Anaesthetic Awareness Claims.


Because of the limitation period for making Anaesthetic Awareness Claims, Duncan Lewis clinical negligence solicitors advise patients to get in touch about making a medical negligence claim as soon as possible following their surgery.


Duncan Lewis solicitors always aim to win maximum compensation for victims of clinical negligence. Compensation for Anaesthetic Awareness Claims may include:


  • Compensation for pain and suffering
  • Compensation for psychological trauma; and
  • Special damages (eg out-of-pocket expenses).


For expert legal advice on making no win no fee Anaesthetic Awareness Claims, contact Duncan Lewis clinical negligence solicitors on 020 7923 4020.

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