If you have woken up during a procedure under general anaesthetic, IBB Claims can help you to pursue a claim for anaesthetic awareness compensation.
Waking up during surgery can be terrifying at the time, with the patient potentially feeling the pain of the surgery while being immobilised and unable to communicate. It can also lead to significant trauma afterwards which can last for years and seriously impact the sufferer’s life.
In some cases, anaesthetic awareness is caused by an error on the part of the person delivering the anaesthesia and/or the surgical team carrying out a procedure. Where it can be shown that negligence was a factor, it may be possible to claim compensation.
Compensation can pay for counselling to help deal with the emotional fallout from experiencing anaesthetic awareness. It can also replace lost income if you are unable to work. The compensation may also help to pay for private health care if you feel unable to trust your future care to the hospital, dental practice or other healthcare provider responsible for your experience.
IBB Claims’ Medical Negligence team are experts in a wide range of medical negligence claims, including for anaesthetic awareness. We offer a free initial consultation to discuss your claim and how we can help. Our team has a strong track record of success, with the majority of claims we handle settled out of court and without having to start any legal action.
Unfortunately, legal aid is not automatically available to bring a medical negligence claim. However, we are delighted to offer no win no fee funding to pursue an anaesthetic awareness claim with our team, meaning there is no upfront cost or financial risk to worry about.
You will normally need to start an anaesthetic awareness claim within three years, although you may sometimes have longer to claim depending on the circumstances (see ‘Anaesthetic awareness claims time limits’). We therefore recommend contacting us as soon as possible so you don’t risk missing your chance to claim.
How to start an anaesthetic awareness claim
The first step is to find out if you are likely to have grounds for a claim. We offer a free, no obligation, initial consultation with one of our expert medical negligence claims solicitors to discuss your case and give you the information you need to decide whether to pursue a claim.
In your free initial consultation, we will cover:
- Whether you are likely to be able to claim compensation for anaesthetic awareness
- How much compensation you may be entitled to
- How the claims process works
- Your funding options (including no win, no fee)
- Any other questions you would like answered
Our no win no fee anaesthetic awareness claims service
We want our claims service to be accessible to everyone, so offer no win, no fee funding, which is more properly known as a ‘conditional fee agreement’.
There are other forms of funding available, legal aid and before the event insurance. We will discuss whether these forms of funding are available to you.
With a conditional fee agreement, you do not need to pay us anything to start a claim. Our fees will only be applied if and when we secure compensation for you, at the end of the case, when you have your compensation. If your claim is unsuccessful, you will not owe us anything, hence the term ‘no win, no fee’.
Making a no-win, no fee anaesthetic awareness claim not only removes the need for you to find the money to cover our fees, it gives you peace of mind.
Anaesthetic awareness claims time limits
Three years is the standard time limit for any type of medical negligence claim, including for anaesthetic awareness. This will be counted from the ‘date of knowledge’ which is the date on which you were aware of the issue and that medical negligence may have been a factor.
There are some exceptions to the standard time limit that may mean you have longer to claim, if specific circumstances apply. Common examples are where:
- The claimant is under 18 – the date of knowledge applies from their 18th birthday, giving a final claims deadline of their 21st birthday.
- The claimant lacks mental capacity – there is no time limit for someone else to claim on their behalf, unless the claimant later regains mental capacity, in which case the three-year time limit would be counted from the date this occurs.
- The claimant has died – their loved ones will usually have three years from the date of death to pursue a claim.
Find out more about time limits for medical negligence claims.
Our expertise with anaesthetic awareness claims
Our Medical Negligence team has a strong track record of success in securing maximum compensation for our clients. We understand how traumatic anaesthetic awareness can be and are ready to bring our experience and skills to bear on your behalf.
IBB Law is highly ranked by leading client guides the Legal 500 and Chambers & Partners while medical negligence specialist Simon Pimlott has been Independently recognised for his expertise. Sources say: "He has an empathetic manner which clients find reassuring." Simon Pimlott has 'a real eye for detail and works incredibly hard to get the best result for each client'.
We are highly skilled in alternative dispute resolution, so can give you the best chance of securing compensation without court proceedings. However, should court proceedings be required, we have the experience and all the necessary legal skills to make sure your claim is pursued as vigorously as possible.
Anaesthetic awareness claims FAQs
What is anaesthetic awareness?
Anaesthetic awareness refers to when a patient under general anaesthetic regains some level of consciousness. Some patients report a vague, dreamlike state while others remember being fully conscious but unable to move.
Not all patients who experience anaesthetic awareness will remember it, but those that do, can suffer serious trauma as a result, both from experiencing the pain of surgery, as well as the emotional trauma of being awake and immobilised during a procedure.
Anaesthetic awareness is sometimes known by other names, including anaesthesia awareness, awareness under anaesthesia and intraoperative awareness or accidental awareness during general anaesthesia (AAGA).
How does anaesthetic awareness happen?
Anaesthetic awareness is normally caused by failure to deliver enough anaesthetics to the patient prior to surgery. This can occur due to various factors, including:
- Failure to calculate the correct dosage of anaesthetic
- Failure to administer the full anaesthetic dose
- Failure to note patient risk factors, such as a history of substance abuse or previous incidents of anaesthetic awareness
How common is waking up during surgery?
Estimates vary, but some research suggests that as many as 1 in 20 patients will experience anaesthetic awareness, although the majority will not remember it afterwards. Other research shows around 1 in 1000 patients recall the experience of being awake under anaesthetic.
With the NHS placing around 3 million people per year under general anaesthetic, even a rate of 1 in 1000 would suggest perhaps 3,000 people a year are left with the memory of waking up during surgery.
Can you get PTSD from waking up during surgery?
Yes, post-traumatic stress disorder is one potential consequences for those who recall experiencing anaesthetic awareness. Those affected can be left with very serious emotional distress, including flashbacks and other severe symptoms that can have a huge impact on their daily lives.
Many people who experience anaesthetic awareness also have an understandable fear of seeking medical treatment in future, which can seriously impact their overall health.
Can you get compensation for anaesthetic awareness during surgery?
If it can be shown that anaesthetic awareness was caused due to negligence in the way anaesthetics were delivered or there was negligence in the way a patient was monitored for potential signs of consciousness during surgery, then it may be possible to claim compensation.
For a successful claim, we would need to be able to show that significant errors were made that equal a breach in the duty of care by the team handling your anaesthesia and/or your surgery.
How much compensation can you get for anaesthetic awareness?
The level of compensation you may be able to claim for anaesthetic awareness will depend on the impact on your life, both emotional and practical.
Examples of things you may be able to claim for include:
- Pain and suffering (physical and emotional)
- Loss of amenity (i.e. not being able to carry out activities you previously could)
- Loss of income (if you need to take time off work)
- Private medical treatment costs
How long does it take to claim compensation for anaesthetic awareness?
There is no set time from for medical negligence claims, including for anaesthetic awareness, but typically a claim might take about 2 years to revolve.
In general, a claim will proceed faster if a settlement can be negotiated out of court and will normally take longer if court proceedings are required.
Will compensation affect my welfare benefits?
Any anaesthetic awareness compensation you receive could theoretically be counted as part of your assets and income for the purposes of means testing in relation to welfare benefits.
Fortunately, this issue can be avoided by placing compensation into a Personal Injury Trust, which may be worth considering depending on your circumstances and the amount of compensation you receive. This means you can continue to receive all your welfare benefits, even though you have been awarded substantial anaesthetic awareness compensation.
Find out more about personal injury trusts.