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According to the Mayo Clinic, it's estimated that 1 or 2 people out of every 10,000 may be at least partially awake under general anesthesia. For those who experience this phenomenon, the worst part of the ordeal is not the pain but the paralysis. Lying there on the surgical table being fully aware of everything that is being done and said yet being totally unable to move or alert anyone for help can be defined by one word: terrorizing. The medical community calls it anesthesia awareness or intraoperative recall.
Even with the number of people who have experienced anesthesia awareness, a Canadian woman recently became the first person to successfully win a malpractice lawsuit. In her case, the anesthesiologist failed to increase a dose of intravenous medication when a surgeon requested it. This type of failure isn't the only thing that can cause anesthesia awareness. Here's what you need to determine if you woke up during surgery.
Was a detailed history asked for?
Based on documentation published by the United States National Institutes of Health, the assessment of the patient's history is the most important part of the preoperative evaluation by an anesthesia technician. Details of the patient's history, along with a thorough review of systems, can reveal issues that could contraindicate the use of certain anesthesia medication and/or dosages. Diabetes mellutis, cardiovascular conditions, obesity, respiratory conditions, pulmonary diseases, and Ehlers-Danlos syndrome are just a few of the medical issues that can contraindicate the typical use and dosages of general anesthesia.
Try to recall the preoperative assessment and evaluation that you went through. Were you asked for a detailed history and did you undergo a thorough medical examination of all of your body's systemic functions, including neurological, respiratory, circulatory, and cardiovascular? If you cannot recall or you are unable to determine whether or not the assessment was done appropriately, a malpractice lawyer can hire an independent medical records evaluation service to conduct an audit of the preoperative assessment as well as the surgical report and any other pertinent medical records.
Were you under the care of more than one anesthesiologist?
Ideally, one anesthesiologist will be in charge of the anesthesia given to a patient from preoperative preparations to postoperative evaluations. Continuum of care provided by one anesthesiologist is preferred, but it's not always possible due to emergency situations or limitations. When the care of a patient under general anesthesia gets placed from one anesthesiologist to another, sometimes miscommunication or other misunderstandings can result in the failure to provide adequate anesthesia support.
Your medical records and surgical notes should detail who your anesthesiologist was and if he or she was replaced at any point. If so, your lawyer and medical record examiner can then try to pinpoint if there was any fault in the transfer of your care, how that may have affected your anesthesia, and if it led to your intraoperative recall during surgery.
Is your memory of the intraoperative recall affecting your daily life?
Remembering the experience of waking up during surgery may be affecting your life in ways such as anxiety, nightmares, and post traumatic stress syndrome. These types of issues can diminish the quality of your life and may affect your socialeconomic lifestyle. Additionally, the fear of it happening again could cause you to avoid medically necessary surgeries in the future. These types of debilitating concerns can affect your life for a long time, particularly if you do not reach out for help in the form of psychological therapy. If the quality of your life has diminished due to the experience, don't hesitate to contact a malpractice lawyer.Share
8 December 2017