Anaesthesia Error Claims *
The most challenging aspect when making an anaesthesia error claim * is proving that you were conscious during the medical procedure. Often the patient is treated with anaesthetic prior to the procedure. However, an incorrect dosage leads to the patient being aware of their surroundings but left without mobility, can cause brain damage, nerve damage among other injuries. From the date of your procedure, you have a two-year period within which you are eligible to pursue a claim
There are a number of types of anaesthesia that a medical professional can use depending on the situations. Some of these types include:
- General Anaesthesia is used when a patient needs to be unconscious, generally used during major operations.
- Local Anaesthesia is used, usually, for minor operations where the patient will remain awake but should feel no pain in the area that is being worked on.
- Regional Anaesthesia is similar to general anaesthetic but focuses more deeply on a certain part of the body, on specific nerves, for example.
- Epidural is given by way of injection into the spine to numb the lower half of the body and is often used for childbirth or cesarean sections.
- Spinal Anaesthesia – similar to an epidural this injection is used to target specific nerves in the spine to number the lower part of the body.
Knowing the effects of anaesthesia is important in determining whether you are experiencing a normal post anaesthesia symptoms or there has been an anaesthesia error. There are a number of known side effects, none of which are particularly long-lasting and tend to only occur directly after administration:
- Confusion and memory loss
- Bruising and tenderness of the area where a needle was inserted
- Feeling cold
- Nausea or vomiting after anaesthesia
Anaesthetic Error *
Anaesthetic Awareness happens when the medical practitioners supply the patient with an insufficient level of anaesthesia, causing the patient to be numb to a level where they’re immobile but not the necessary amount to be unconscious. Despite the patient not feeling any physical pain, they can hear what is happening to them. If you have suffered from this anaesthetic error * it is necessary to be diagnosed with a quantifiable injury in order to have a stateable case.
A patient that suffered from an anaesthesia error can be diagnosed with a psychological injury immediately or sometimes weeks after the procedure. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, severe anxiety, panic attacks, flashbacks and depression are all psychological impacts linked with an anaesthetic error. If the patient decides to pursue a claim the psychological injury must be diagnosed by a practising doctor.
The most dangerous anaesthetic error is administrating too much anaesthesia – more than the necessary amount. The amount of anaesthesia that is required is dependent on factors such as the procedure being performed and the size of the patient. When too much is administrated, severe consequences occur which include cardiac arrest, difficulty to regain consciousness and brain damage and in some cases may lead to anaesthesia death.
Procedures that use general anaesthesia require tubes to be inserted to keep the patient’s airways open. If the tubes are not correctly in place it can cause the patient to receive a lack of oxygen, leading to brain damage in severe cases.
Causes of Anaesthesia Error *
The anaesthetist administrating the medication has a responsibility to obtain certain details prior to the procedure. These details include:
- Acknowledging any medical conditions of the patient,
- Identifying any special monitoring needs,
- Considering the age and condition of the patient.
If the medical practitioner is unable to identify or acknowledge any of the duties mentioned they become liable for the pain and suffering the patient experienced.
Other causes of injury could be:
- Failure to monitor the patient
- Failure to recognise complications
- Communication errors between anaesthetists and medical staff
- Defective equipment
Making a Claim *
1. Speak with a Solicitor *
If you feel that you were not provided with the appropriate medical treatment where your health was put at an unnecessary risk as of the result of the actions of a medical professional, speaking with a medical negligence solicitor * as soon as possible following the error is imperative. Medical negligence is a very complex topic in Irish law and attempting to bring a claim forward without having spoken to a solicitor specialising in anaesthetic claims * may mean that you may miss a vital step of the process which could delay your claims procedure considerably.
2. Medical Records
In order to make a claim *, it must be established and proven that the error sustained was caused by the medical negligence * of the doctor that was tasked with your health. Therefore, after having spoken with you about your case, your solicitor will then request access to your medical records. It is important to note that a claim for anaesthetic error * is handled directly by the Health Service Education (HSE). For this reason, the solicitor would have to contact the hospital to obtain any notes from the surgical procedure and have them reviewed. If the case is strong, it is likely that the HSE will admit liability within the two year period you have to claim. This means that it is unlikely that the case will go to court and a fee will be agreed upon.
At this stage, the solicitor will have your medical record assessed by an independent medical expert. This will help determine whether the doctor who decided to prescribe the medicine had, in fact, administered substandard medical care and if medical negligence * was the cause of the error and if your injuries/outcome could have been avoided if the appropriate level of medical care had been adhered to.
3. Letter of Claim
If the independent medical expert has concluded that medical negligence has occurred then your solicitor will draft a Letter of Claim to the HSE. A Letter of Claim will outline the nature of your case and invites the medical practitioner to settle your claim.
The next steps involved are heavily dependent on your case and response to your Letter of Claim and will determine whether your case will be brought to court or settled outside of court. Factors including the severity of error made, any impacts that will patient has to live with due to the error and the financial cost of your injury will impact how much may be awarded to you. Your solicitor will be on hand every step of the way to guide you through this process.
TELL US ABOUT YOUR CASE
At Tracey Solicitors, our dedicated medical negligence solicitors * have years of experience in helping patients deal situations where an anaesthetic error has led to an injury. We understand the injuries (physically and emotionally) that you have suffered and have supported and helped many people in similar situations proceed with medical negligence claims * in Ireland over the past 30 years. For a confidential discussion, call Caoimhe McConnell, Head Medical Negligence Solicitor, on 01 649 9900 and tell her about your case or reach out via email to firstname.lastname@example.org and she can call you back.