Anesthesia Awareness

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Anesthesia awareness is a disturbing phenomenon that occurs when a patient under general anesthesia becomes mentally aware during surgery, but remains paralyzed and unable to communicate that awareness. Patients who suffer anesthesia awareness frequently report sensations of severe pain and an inability to breathe. They also report feeling extreme terror at their failure to communicate their needs and discomfort. By all accounts, anesthesia awareness is a frightening event and often results in posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and an aversion to subsequent surgical care.

If you or a loved one has suffered anesthesia awareness, you should know that you have legal rights. You may be entitled to seek compensation for your losses and suffering. Please contact us today for a FREE consultation with a caring and competent medical malpractice attorney who can help protect your rights and maximize your interests.

Anesthesia Awareness: A Growing Problem

In October 2004, the Joint Commission on the Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO) issued a Sentinel Event Alert on anesthesia awareness—its frequency, impact, prevention and management. According to the alert, anesthesia awareness occurs at an alarming rate, with approximately 20,000 to 40,000 cases each year.

Nearly half of all patients who experience anesthesia awareness describe being able to hear the events of the surgery and experience difficulty breathing, while almost 30 percent report being able to feel pain. The consequences of these sensations are severe. At least 50 percent of anesthesia awareness victims suffer from extreme emotional distress, including PTSD, following surgery.

Anesthesia Awareness: The Risks

Factors that increase the risk that a patient will suffer anesthesia awareness include delivering the anesthesia through an IV and decreasing the dose of anesthesia at the end of the surgery, which is done to facilitate a more rapid operating room turnover. Cardiac, obstetric, and surgeries involving major traumas also increase the likelihood that a patient will experience anesthesia awareness.

There are measures anesthesiologists and operating room doctors can take to reduce the risk of anesthesia awareness. When doctors or other healthcare professionals fail to follow proper procedures or exercise a certain standard of care when administering anesthesia, they can be held legally liable for their actions.

Contact An Attorney Near You 

If you or a loved one has suffered anesthesia awareness, you may be eligible to recover your damages, including compensation for your mental anguish, through a medical malpractice lawsuit. Please contact us today to speak with a compassionate and qualified medical malpractice attorney who can inform you of your legal rights and help you seek the justice you deserve.

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