How do I make a claim for anaesthesia error compensation if I was not fully anaesthetised during a general procedure?

Eoin P. Campbell, LL.B., Solicitor

Editor in Chief

Eoin P. Campbell

Answer:

Proving that you were suffered from anaesthetic awareness during a procedure is one of the most difficult aspects of making a claim for anaesthesia error compensation. As it is likely that you were immobile during the procedure, it would have been impossible to indicate to anybody that you were experiencing pain as you were being operated on, and therefore the medical team present in the theatre would be unaware that an anaesthesia error had occurred.

Therefore, in order to initiate an anaesthesia error compensation claim, you should discuss what you experienced during your period of anaesthetic awareness with an experienced medical negligence solicitor. The solicitor would, with your permission, access your relevant medical records and have them reviewed by a medical expert who would establish that your anaesthetic awareness was the result of a poor professional performance by the anaesthetist.

There are a series of procedures which anaesthetists have to complete before you even arrive in the operating theatre – one of the most vital being to consider any existing health conditions you may have that would affect how much anaesthetic you should be given during a general procedure. If the anaesthetist has failed to identify any special monitoring needs that were required to prevent anaesthetic awareness or monitor the depth of anaesthesia during your operation, he or she has been negligent in their duty of care towards you and is liable for the pain and suffering you experienced.

Once negligence has been established, your solicitor will construct the strongest possible claim for anaesthetic awareness compensation which will be presented directly to the anaesthetist responsible for the breach in their duty of care. The Injuries Board Ireland do not assess anaesthesia error compensation claims – even when medical negligence has been established – as how much compensation for an anaesthesia error you will be entitled to will be decided by medical opinion rather than tangible evidence.

Furthermore, as anaesthesia errors such as you suffered frequently result in Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, you may be entitled to include compensation for any psychological trauma you have suffered in your compensation claim for anaesthetic awareness – something which will be determined by a psychiatric evaluation – and any long term emotional injuries you sustain as a result of the anaesthetist´s negligence.

Going back over the sensations you experienced due to an anaesthesia error will not be a comfortable task, but it is something you should talk about with a medical negligence solicitor at the first practical opportunity. Although you have two years from the date of your procedure in which to make a claim for anaesthetic awareness compensation, the research into the anaesthetist´s errors and evaluation of how they may have distressed you emotionally may take a considerable amount of time to accomplish.