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Anaesthesia Errors and Compensation Claims

Anaesthetics are drugs used during medical procedures to put people to sleep, cause a loss of sensation and/or relieve pain. There are several types of anaesthesia that anaesthetics can be used in, and these may be used in combination for some procedures.

Anaesthetists are responsible for administering and managing the anaesthetics during the procedure – including monitoring critical bodily functions. They are also consulted beforehand to ensure that correct approach is taken based on the procedure and medical condition/history of the patient.

Mistakes and errors when using anaesthetics

This is a specialised area of medicine and requires skilled medical professionals to ensure that anaesthesia is carried out and managed safely. However, there are risks and these can have significant consequences.

Some of the errors in anaesthesia include:

  • Not assessing the patient thoroughly before an operation, leading to either incorrect doses or inappropriate drugs being used.
  • Causing damage while injecting the drug, leading to pain, nerve damage or paralysis
  • Failure to properly monitor a patient’s condition during and after anaesthesia. Changes in heart rate, blood pressure and oxygen flow from anaesthetics put some patients at risk of strokes and heart problems.

Medical negligence claims with anaesthesia

Not all mistakes in anaesthesia are the result of medical negligence. First, the error must have caused harm or injury and, second, it must be agreed that a similarly trained professional would not have made the same error.

If you believe you have been injured or suffered loss as a result of an anaesthesia error, get in touch with Shine via phone or the contact form below for a free consultation.

Common questions about Anaesthesia Errors and Compensation Claims

Anaesthetics are substances that temporarily reduce or take away pain and sensation. Often so that surgery or procedures that would otherwise be painful can be carried out.

There are two types of anaesthetics that medical practitioners use;
  • General, which makes someone unconscious
  • Local, which numbs specific areas of the body
Anaesthesia can be roughly divided into four different categories:-
  • Local anaesthesia – a local anaesthetic injected into the tissue below the skin, usually used for minor surgeries (during which the person is awake).
  • Regional anaesthesia – a local anaesthetic injected around nerve bundles to numb sensations in a larger area, such as the thigh or forearm. Epidurals are an example of regional anaesthesia.
  • Sedation – aims to relax the patient, making them sleepy and relaxed during a procedure. People often remember little of the experience afterwards.
  • General anaesthesia – Used for major surgeries/operations when a person needs to be unconscious. Requires an anaesthetist to monitor their condition while they’re ‘under’.
Anaesthetists are specialist medical professionals and thousands of patients are given anaesthetics across Australia every day. Mistakes are rare, however they do occur.

Some of the errors in anaesthesia include:
  • Not assessing the patient thoroughly before an operation, leading to either incorrect doses or inappropriate drugs being used.
  • Causing damage while injecting the drug, leading to pain, nerve damage or paralysis
  • Failure to properly monitor a patient’s condition during and after anaesthesia. Changes in heart rate, blood pressure and oxygen flow from anaesthetics put some patients at risk of strokes and heart problems.
Prior to surgery it is crucial that your anaesthetist has a clear understanding of your medical history, current medication, fitness and lifestyle. Some of this key information includes:
  • Reactions to anaesthetics in the past
  • Allergies
  • Current prescription drugs
  • Smoking and drinking
  • Use of illicit substances
  • Recommendations from related specialists
Not all mistakes in anaesthesia are the result of medical error on behalf of a medical professional or facility. Every case is different and it depends on your particular circumstances.

Shine Lawyers have expert lawyers who can help you establish if you have a claim for compensation. As part of our service we will take statements from you regarding your treatment and care before, during and after the operation or procedure.

It’s important for the lawyers to determine the most likely cause of error and whether a claim should proceed.
Injury compensation amounts are calculated based on the harm and/or loss suffered rather than the degree of negligence. A medical negligence claim could include compensation for the following:
  • Pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life
  • Loss of life expectation
  • Past and future loss of earnings
  • Care and help provided by friends or family
  • Paid care and help such as nurses, gardeners, etc
  • Past and future medical expenses, such as surgery and equipment
  • Home and vehicle modification expenses
  • Costs associated with a trustee managing your money


The diagram below shows the key principle behind claiming compensation. In most instances a monetary value is placed on the gap between your life path before the incident, and your life path since the incident.

Compensation Diagram
If you have sustained injury at the hands of a medical professional or practitioner, it’s typically the insurance company of the entity at fault that will pay you the compensation and not the professional or facility themselves.

Medical practitioners are required by law to have suitable Professional Indemnity Insurance (PII) in the event of an accident or injury for this reason.
There are time limits when it comes to making a claim for medical negligence during anaesthesia. Generally, in most states under Australian Law, that time limit is three years from the date of the negligent incident.

However, there are a lot of exceptions to this – which is why it’s important to seek the expert advice of a lawyer who can advise you of your rights.
Shine Lawyers operate on a no win no fee basis, which means that if you make a medical malpractice claim you won’t pay our legal fees unless we win.

The legal fees at the end depend on the work required to successfully win your case, so the amount can vary depending on the complexity of the case. Your lawyer will give you a guide as to the expected fees once they understand your case.

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