Trauma After Waking up During Surgery

It is estimated that approximately 1 in 1000 patients experience some level of consciousness on the operating table. In some cases, this does not result in any significant loss or discomfort.  However, if the patient experiences sensation or pain or is able to see the operation in progress, it may be extremely traumatic, even resulting in post-traumatic stress disorder or an associated psychological condition.

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Medical negligence by anesthetists

During medical procedures, anaesthetic drugs are used to induce a state of unconsciousness so that the patient is not aware of sensation or pain. A specialist doctor known as an anaesthetist is responsible for administering and monitoring anaesthetic drugs during a procedure. Failure to properly administer anesthetics may lead to serious medical complications. 

Common errors made by anesthetists include:

  • Inadequate assessment the patient prior to the operation leading to wrong dosage or use of inappropriate drugs
  • Pain, paralysis or nerve damage resulting from negligent administration of the drug
  • Inadequate monitoring of the patient’s heart rate, blood pressure, oxygen and other vital signs during and after anesthesia resulting in heart complications and stroke

Can I claim compensation for waking up during surgery?

Whether or not you can make a claim for negligence depends on a number of factors. Making a claim for medical negligence depends on a number of factors.

  • Firstly, there needs to be negligence on the part of your medical provider. If the anesthetist did everything correctly, yet you woke on the operating table, there can be no claim for negligence. Whether or not the anesthetists actions and decisions were appropriate in the circumstances is generally assessed by reference to standard industry practices.
  • Secondly, you must have suffered damage as a result of the negligence. You must be able to prove that the negligence caused a recognised ongoing physical or psychological medical condition. The compensation you are entitled to will be proportionate to the severity of your damage.

What damages can I claim for waking up during surgery?

How much compensation you are entitled to will depend on how much damage or loss you have suffered. In a negligence action, compensation is broken down into components called heads of damage. 

The court will award a specific amount of compensation for each of the following heads of damage:

  • General damages for pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life
  • Reduced life expectation
  • Loss of income (past and future)
  • Medical, hospital and surgery costs (past and future)
  • Paid and gratuitous care
  • Modifications to home and vehicle; and
  • Costs of administering and managing your payout
  • Interest

I think I have a claim - what next?

If you think you have a claim for medical negligence arising from inadequate anesthesia, talk to us about your prospects of getting compensation. We have direct experience with this type of claim and advise you of your options.

Next steps - get advice now

It’s important to get advice for your specific situation. Check if you can make a risk-free compensation claim and get free initial advice from our Principal lawyer, Greg Smith.

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Disclaimer: This information is designed for general information in relation to Queensland compensation law. It does not constitute legal advice. We strongly recommend you seek legal advice in regards to your specific situation. For expert advice call 1800 266 801 or chat via live chat to arrange free initial advice with our Principal lawyer, Greg Smith.

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