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Anaesthetic Negligence

When we undergo a procedure that requires a general anaesthetic, we put huge trust into medical professionals, particularly the anaesthetist.

Anaesthetic care

An anaesthetist has a number of very important duties to perform, before, during and after your operation.

Firstly, an anaesthetist must assess your notes before your operation to check your height, weight and age. This will dictate how much anaesthetic is required. This must be accurately judged, as it must be enough to ensure you are not awake, but not so much that you are put in dangers.

During the operation itself, an anaesthetist will keep an eye on your vital signs, including your oxygen saturation levels and your heart monitor. Should anything be amiss, action should be taken as appropriate for example, it may be necessary to top up the anaesthetic, administer fluids or a blood transfusion.

After the operation, an anaesthetist will be responsible for ensuring you are prescribed fluids and oxygen, as required, and that you are stable enough to go back to the ward.

Types of negligent anaesthetic care

Normally all these duties are performed without a problem. However, there are times when anaesthetic care falls to an unacceptable standard. This can happen due to:

1. Anaesthetic awareness

When not enough anaesthetic is given at the start of the operation, a patient will actually be aware of his or her surroundings and be sensitive to pain while the procedure is going on. This will of course be extremely traumatic, and will often lead to severe psychological issues for the patient concerned.

2. Anaesthetic overdose

At the other end of the scale, an anaesthetist can give a patient too much anaesthetic, causing serious complications such as organ failure. This may happen if a patient has not been assessed properly, leading an anaesthetist to administer a dose that is far too high for their age and weight, or that is dangerous in light of their ill health.

3. Wrong administration of anaesthetic

There are different types of anaesthetic, all of which need to be administered in a different way. For example, an epidural will be injected straight into the spine, while a general anaesthetic will injected into a vein. If there is any confusion for example, if an epidural is administered intravenously a patient will suffer devastating complications.

4. Vital signs

If an anaesthetist does not watch a patient's vital signs while they are under anaesthetic, the surgical team will not be unaware of any problems and carry on regardless. However, this may mean that something such as a drop in blood pressure or oxygen saturation levels goes unnoticed.

Claiming compensation for anaesthetic negligence

If any of these things has happened to you or your loved one, do not hesitate to get in touch with a medical negligence solicitor, as you could be entitled to claim compensation.

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