As with all medical errors, anesthesia errors can have serious consequences. During a surgical procedure, an anesthesiologist has the responsibility of regulating a patient’s consciousness correctly during the surgical procedure. If an insufficient dose of anesthesia is administered then the patient may wake up during the procedure. This very traumatic event is known as anesthesia awareness.
Anesthesia awareness is an extremely horrifying experience for a patient. The patient is unable to move or speak, but they are aware of what is happening to them during the surgery. Some patients may even experience extreme pain. According to one study in Anesthesia & Analgesia, nearly fifty percent of patients who have experienced anesthesia awareness will hear conversations that are happening in the operating room, half will experience sensations of not being able to breathe, and twenty-eight percent will feel pain during the surgery.
The experience of anesthesia awareness can be traumatizing to the patient, both physically and emotionally. Patients have reported feelings of paralysis and helplessness. Due to this emotional trauma, patients can develop post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety disorders, and sleep problems to name a few.
Anesthesia awareness can occur due to a patient’s unexpected reaction to a type or dose of general anesthetic. They may have been purposely given a light dose because of the instability or severity of their condition. Other medications may also hide the signs that a patient has not been given an adequate amount of anesthesia. However, there are also cases where a medical professional’s error or equipment failure may have resulted in anesthesia awareness. In these cases, medical professional may be liable to the injured patient for their losses and pain and suffering.
It has been estimated that every year between 21,000 and 42,000 people in the United States experience anesthesia awareness. Hospitals and doctors have been, in the past and possibly even now, reluctant to address this very serious issue. However, this problem is getting harder and harder to ignore.
If you or a loved one has suffered serious injury due to an anesthesia error that lead to anesthesia awareness, you may be able to recover for your damages. Contact an experienced medical malpractice attorney as soon as possible to evaluate your case and protect your rights.
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