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Good anaesthetic care, technique, and skill is often taken for granted by patients who are more concerned about the surgical outcome of their operation. However, even a minor mistake by the anaesthetist, at any stage in the patient’s journey through surgery, can result in devastating injury.
If you or a loved one has suffered anaesthetic negligence, our expert medical negligence solicitors are here to help.
Anaesthetic negligence occurs when a medical professional has failed to keep you safe in the choice and management of anaesthesia. Anaesthetic is given to a patient to numb the feeling when undergoing surgery - the more invasive the surgery, the stronger the anaesthetic will be.
There are generally three types of anaesthetic, as it depends on what type of surgery is required and whether the patient needs to be conscious. They include:
If you have suffered anaesthetic negligence, you should contact us to help you start your claim as soon as you feel well enough to do so. We will help you gather the following:
All of the above will help us prove that you were physically harmed (causation), but also that the medical professional failed in their duty of care (negligence).
You can also make an anaesthetic negligence claim on someone else's behalf. This applies to under 18-year-olds, those who do not have the cognitive capacity to manage their affairs and those who have died due to negligence.
Our clients receive the highest standards of advice and representation and are always treated with compassion, outstanding care and understanding of the physical, emotional, psychological and financial impact that life-changing injury can have upon their lives.
Our medical negligence solicitors help individuals and their families who are left bereaved, disabled or seriously injured by medical negligence claim substantial sums of compensation.
Money cannot take away the injury, but compensation has helped hundreds of our clients pay for essential care and equipment, move into adapted accommodation, pay for private therapies and psychological counselling, and restore financial stability after a serious injury or devastating loss has affected their own and their family’s lives.
Call our specialist legal teams Monday - Friday, 9:00 - 17.30 for free, no obligation advice.
Complete our simple form to start your claim and get a call back back from our expert legal team.
The Royal College of Anaesthetists has published several leaflets on its website explaining the types of minor and major injury that can arise from having an anaesthetic.
Although rare, the most severe injuries include:
It is part of the anaesthetist’s job to assess each patient’s individual risk before surgery.
Many of the risks from having an anaesthetic cannot be predicted. For example, it is not always possible to know how a patient who has never had an anaesthetic before will react to the anaesthetic drugs.
Anaesthetists make their assessment based on general risks associated with having surgery under general anaesthetic and any additional risk arising from the patient’s own health, allergies, lifestyle, and type of surgery.
Patients having a general anaesthetic may have a higher risk of serious complications if they:
The anaesthetist keeps the patient in a state of controlled unconsciousness during surgery.
This is done by using anaesthetic which blocks the nerve signals to the brain, so the patient cannot feel anything during the operation. This is sometimes referred to as ‘anaesthetised’, or ‘put under’.
As well as the anaesthetic, the patient is also given muscle relaxants to keep their body relaxed and still during surgery.
During this time, the patient is unable to breathe, therefore they are given a ventilator machine which allows the patient to receive oxygen through a tube.
The anaesthetist must monitor the patient throughout the operation, for example, to check their blood pressure, heart rate, respiratory rate and that the patient is receiving the correct amount of oxygen. They must be alert to warning signs of complications, including any sign that the patient is becoming conscious or feeling pain, or is losing too much blood and needs fluid, or is suffering from some other complication or reaction. If a warning sign appears, they must react quickly to correct the problem. In the case of a severe allergic (anaphylactic) reaction, this may mean stopping the operation.
After the surgery is complete, the anaesthetist is responsible for ensuring that the patient recovers consciousness and is able to breathe safely. They must monitor that the patient has come through the anaesthetic without any serious ill effects.
There are many anaesthetic mistakes which often lead to successful compensation claims.
Not all injuries during surgery or under anaesthetic are caused by negligence.
Common claims for serious injury arising from errors by anaesthetists include:
Where a patient has suffered an injury during surgery or a general anaesthetic, our skilled clinical negligence lawyers review the medical records to investigate whether their injury was caused by negligence or equipment failure, and if they are entitled to compensation.
The amount of compensation depends on the type of injury, its impact on the patient’s life and their additional needs arising from the injury.
Where the injury is severe, compensation may be recovered for:
Where liability is admitted, we obtain early interim payments to ease our clients’ financial hardship and help meet their urgent needs arising from the injury. This means that while we work with our experts on valuing and preparing the case for settlement, our clients can begin to rebuild their lives.
Our resources include:
£13.3 million compensation for a teenager who suffered a neonatal brain injury in the days after his birth and permanent physical disability from cerebral palsy as a result of a hospital’s negligent treatment of necrotising enterocolitis and excessive ventilation (hypocarbia). The settlement followed a judgment providing our client with 100% compensation, as the negligent care made a ‘material contribution’ to his disability which the medical experts could not distinguish from any disability naturally caused by his condition. During the ongoing claim his urgent needs were met by an £875,000 interim payment.
Compensation settlement for a woman who suffered a psychological injury after residual anaesthetic drugs from earlier surgery were flushed through her cannula. The drugs left her unable to breathe, move or communicate her distress to the nursing staff. She believed she was going to die, and eventually passed out. Following the incident she required treatment for anxiety and flashbacks.
Compensation settlement for a woman who underwent surgery whilst still conscious but unable to breathe or move or communicate her pain or awareness to the anaesthetist who had negligently administered her anaesthetic drugs in the wrong order. She suffered a severe psychological injury with PTSD.
Compensation settlement for a client who suffered a severe psychiatric injury including PTSD when she was left conscious and in excruciating pain but paralysed and unable to communicate with the anaesthetist who had negligently given her the wrong dosage of anaesthetic drugs.
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Medical negligence is when a medical professional, such as a doctor, midwife, or nurse, or other healthcare practitioner is negligent if they act in a way that falls below any acceptable standard of care.
If someone is injured as a result of medical negligence, they are entitled to compensation for any injury that was caused and for the financial consequences of that injury.
Medical negligence claims that involve severe injury and disability should always be handled by specialist medical negligence solicitors. It takes experience and skill to successfully prove that medical negligence has caused a patient’s injuries, and to secure the highest levels of compensation.
Anyone who has suffered serious injury or disability as a result of negligent NHS or private medical care can make a medical negligence claim for compensation. Special rules apply to children, adults with mental incapacity, and claims arising from a fatal injury/someone’s death.
Children and teenagers under the age of 18, or anyone with mental incapacity, must make their claim via a ‘litigation friend’. This is usually a parent or guardian in the case of a child, or a partner or other adult family member in the case of an adult with mental incapacity. The solicitor handling the claim takes instructions and works closely with the litigation friend whilst ensuring that decisions are made in the best interests of the child or mentally incapable adult who is making the claim. You can find out more about making a claim for a child.
Some important decisions, such as agreements to settle a child or mentally incapable adult’s claim, must be approved by the court. Arrangements must also be made to safeguard the child or mentally incapable adult’s compensation, whether from an interim payment, lump sum settlement or agreed future payments. Depending on the claimant’s circumstances, this may be done by paying the money into a Court Funds Office account until the child is 18, by appointing a Court of Protection deputy or setting up a personal injury trust. You can find out more about Court of Protection deputyship and personal injury trusts.
If the claim is for bereaved family members and dependants after medical negligence caused someone’s death, the claim must be made by the deceased’s personal representative (executor or administrator of their estate) on behalf of all who are entitled to compensation as a result of the death. You can find out more about making a fatal injury medical negligence claim here.
The NHS has a responsibility to provide its patients with a safe and acceptable level of care. If a patient is seriously injured or their condition is made significantly worse as a result of negligent NHS care, the patient may be entitled to claim compensation.
Compensation can help meet the costs of care, therapies, equipment and home adaptations that are needed when an NHS mistake causes injury or disability that permanently affects the patient’s life.
We are experts at helping clients receive the compensation they deserve from the NHS. We understand the concerns that patients and their families sometimes have about claiming against the NHS. You can read our answers to many of the most common questions on our NHS claims page or speak to one of our solicitors about your own claim by contacting us.
Whilst we cannot guarantee that any particular claim will settle out of court, we take great care in investigating and preparing each claim that we take on. Our clients’ claims usually settle successfully without the need for a contested trial.
Occasionally, cases can only be concluded by a formal court hearing, such as where:
Where our client’s claim is complicated by any of the above, we may advise our client that for the case to proceed, it must go to a court hearing. Our caring and highly experienced medical negligence solicitors and barristers ensure that our clients are always kept informed and supported.
Even in non-contested cases, there will be occasions when the case is brought for shorter hearings before the court, such as after a settlement for a child or brain injured adult without mental capacity takes place. In these cases, the lawyers for both sides present the agreed settlement to the court for the judge’s approval.
Each claimant’s compensation is calculated in accordance with mandatory rules based on their individual circumstances.
Compensation for medical negligence should put the injured person back in the position that they would have been in if the negligence hadn’t happened, in so far as money can.
In a medical negligence claim, the amount of compensation depends on:
Compensation for medical negligence usually includes a sum for the injury, and sums to compensate for financial losses and the cost of meeting the needs that arise from the disability.
Our medical negligence solicitors ensure clients receive their compensation in the way that is best suited to meet their needs.
Depending on our clients’ injuries, individual circumstances and needs, we can recover compensation to pay for:
Where medical negligence caused someone’s death, compensation may be claimed by the deceased’s dependants and on behalf of the deceased’s estate. Compensation in a fatal injury medical negligence claim can be paid for:
There are three ways to fund a medical negligence claim, legal aid, no win no fee, and legal expense insurance.
A medical examination is usually needed to assess our client’s injury. Where our client has suffered multiple injuries or both physical and psychological injuries, they may need to be examined by specialists in each area. This is important to make sure that our client’s injuries are fully assessed and understood, so that they can be properly compensated.
If a medical examination is needed, we instruct the specialist and make the arrangements. We ensure that they have access to our client’s medical records and are aware of the background to the claim. The hospital or doctor against whom the claim is being made may also ask for our client to be examined by their medical expert.
The law states that, in most cases, someone who has been injured as a result of medical negligence has three years from the date of the negligence which caused the injury to issue court proceedings. If they fail to issue court proceedings within that time, their claim will be statute barred, meaning that they lose their right to bring a claim.
There are the following exceptions to the three-year rule:
Regardless of your time limit, we recommend that you contact our medical negligence solicitors as soon as you can, even if at that stage you are only considering whether to make a claim.
By contacting us early, it avoids later problems with deadlines and allows us to advise you on how to collect and preserve essential evidence. This enables us to ensure you have the best chance of securing your entitlement to full compensation for your claim.
If a baby, child, or teenager under the age of 18 makes a claim for compensation for injuries caused by medical negligence, their claim is made on their behalf by a ‘litigation friend’. This is usually a parent or guardian.
As the child’s solicitor, we have a responsibility to make sure that all decisions relating to the claim are made in the best interests of the child. To do this, we work very closely with the child’s family. Some important decisions, such as settlement agreements or the amount of money that is allocated to a child in a claim involving more than one claimant, must be approved by the court.
We are specialists in helping families obtain full compensation for children who have been very severely injured, leaving them with permanent disability and lifelong specialist needs. Our expert children’s claims service includes a dedicated Court of Protection team who help our clients protect, budget and access their compensation via deputyship and trusts, and an SEN team to ensure that their special educational needs are met. Find out more about how we help families, children, and teenagers with children’s claims.
If you think that you or a family member have received negligent medical treatment or have experienced malpractice, we recommend that you speak to one of our friendly, experienced clinical negligence claim solicitors as soon as possible.
You can contact us by telephone or by email. Your enquiry will be handled confidentially and preliminary advice in relation to pursuing a claim will be given free of charge.
Our medical negligence solicitors will ask you to tell us briefly what has happened, advise you about the limitation deadlines (time limits) which apply to your claim and whether we are able to help you investigate your claim.
Once our initial investigations have taken place, we will notify the defendant (hospital or doctor) of your intention to pursue a claim and invite them to respond, giving them an opportunity to admit liability, before court proceedings are issued.
If liability is admitted, we will enter judgment and apply for an interim payment as soon as possible to meet any urgent needs that you may have as a result of the negligently caused injury.
If liability is disputed, we will discuss with you the further steps that we need to take to progress your claim.
Our extensive guide on making a medical negligence claim explains the whole process, if you require any further information.
The duration of a medical negligence claim depends on the individual circumstances of the client’s case. The claim is likely to take less time to conclude where:
Circumstances which make the claim more complex and therefore take longer to resolve include:
Our medical negligence solicitors work hard to secure early admissions of liability and substantial interim payments so that we can begin to alleviate financial hardship and provide essential care, respite, specialist equipment, therapies and home adaptations long before the claim has settled. With liability judgments secured and interim funds in place, the individual and their family are able to focus on rebuilding their lives whilst we concentrate on valuing and negotiating settlement of the claim.
Compensation is carefully structured to ensure the best provision for the injured person’s needs. Our clients often benefit from different types of compensation, including:
Where healthcare is found to be (legally) negligent, then the claimant (the person making the claim) must prove that their injury was caused or significantly worsened by the negligent care.
This is important because the patient may already be very ill when they receive negligent medical care. In those circumstances, they must prove that their injury (and its financial consequences) would have been avoided or greatly reduced if correct treatment had been given. This aspect of the medical negligence claim is known as ‘causation’. Causation must be proven, even if negligence is admitted, for the claim to succeed and compensation to be awarded.
Negligence and causation must be proven by supportive opinions from medical experts. We instruct experts in the same field of medicine as the negligent care to tell us whether the care that was given was of a reasonable standard. If negligence is proven, we ask medical specialists in the type of injury suffered, to confirm whether our client’s injury was caused or made worse by the negligent treatment, or would have been reduced or avoided with correct care.
In a medical negligence claim, compensation will only be paid for injuries and loss that we can prove were caused by the healthcare provider’s negligence. Once we know what mistakes were made, the next step (causation) is to identify the extent of the injury or disability that was caused by those mistakes.
Proving causation in complex medical negligence cases requires both medical expertise and understanding of the law. We often succeed in claims where NHS Resolution (the NHS’ defence organisation) has denied ‘causation’. You can read more about how we overcome difficulties with causation in complex birth injury cases.
Our medical negligence and personal injury teams have been nationally recognised for over 20 years because of their expertise, empathy and commitment to securing maximum compensation for our clients.
What has to be some of the most testing horrible times was dealt with in a dignified, honest, approachable and truly empathetic manner. I could not begin to do Susan justice for her handling of our case.
I approached Boyes Turner after my claim was turned down by one of the Medical Negligence Claim company. My wife was a victim of medical negligence.
Boyes Turner have acted so efficiently on our behalf and was able to win our case. Anytime we contact them, their customer service was very good as they kept us fully informed of every level our case has developed. They are very friendly and approachable and great in their professional advise. I would strongly recommend anyone approach them for their legal and medical negligence services.
Thoroughly professional, knowledgable and approachable with communication and updates as and when needed, in what can be a drawn out process, I was always comfortable asking questions and always received answers which were clear and understandable. Highly recommend
I came to Boyes Turner desperate after searching the web for a firm to use for my sons case. He was only a few months so my mind was all over the place, but from the very first point of contact I felt a sense of relieve and belonging. I was welcomed and looked after by amazing staff who always communicated everything so well and went the extra mile to explain things and ensure I understood what was happening every step of the way (THANK YOU SUSAN BROWN). Susan was amazing I felt like I not only had a solicitor but someone who understood my emotions as a mother and always handled me with so much compassion and that was all I needed to keep me going for the 6 years of the case. Years went by in a breeze because of how professional Boyes Turner was. I am so greatful I went through it all with them and mananged to get my son a good compensation. We look forward our new life where my sons needs are priority after struggling for so long. Thank you Boyes Turner and thank you Susan Brown. My family and I are ever indebted.
From the moment I picked up the phone and spoke to Richard Money-Kyrle I knew I had done the right thing by choosing Boyes Turner to take our claim forward and to represent my son. Both Richard Money-Kyrle and Alpa Rana have worked on our case and they both have been amazing throughout, explaining every step of the way and anything we didn’t understand and keeping me updated constantly. This gave me and my family a lot of reassurance.
Both Richard and Alpa are friendly and gained my trust and have been really easy to talk to which has made the process a whole lot easier and smoother than anticipated.
The outcome of the claim was far more than I could have wished for and that was down to their hard work and expertise
I couldn’t fault them they have been brilliant throughout the whole process I would recommend Boyes Turner to anyone.