Why Are Patients Gaining Consciousness During Surgery?

17th September 2014

The Royal College of Anaesthetists and Association of Anaesthetists of Great Britain and Ireland suggested that this happens during one in every 19,000 operations, after studying three million operations over a one year period.

Most cases have occurred as a result of patients being given particular drugs such as muscle-relaxant medication, administered along with drugs that reduce consciousness. In some cases, experts have suggested that patients may not have been given the appropriate balance of medication resulting in them being paralysed, but having some level of awareness.

It was reported that many cases were experienced by women undergoing Caesarean sections. One in 670 women could gain consciousness during this type of surgery under general anaesthetic. Experts have argued that this may be due to the balance of medication administered, as the mother needs to be unconscious whilst the baby is still kept awake.

Patients have described feeling awake, while also experiencing paralysis, meaning they were unable to alert staff. Although these cases are extremely rare, it is worrying that these situations have been experienced by some patients. Incidents like this can be extremely traumatic resulting in long-term psychological harm. Anaesthetists must pay greater attention to ensure that these cases do not happen, however small the number of occurred episodes is.

At Fletchers we are experts in dealing with claims of medical negligence and understand how distressing it can be to experience mistakes whilst you’re in the care of a professional. For many patients who undergo surgery, the procedure is carried out to the highest standards but for some people this is not the case and they may be able to make a claim for negligence. If you or a family member has been through a traumatic operation that has resulted in further harm, then we may be able to help you get the compensation you deserve.


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