Can I File a Medical Malpractice Claim If I Wake Up During Surgery?
The chances of waking up during surgery are one in 1,000, and often, waking up while under general anesthesia can lead to a medical practice case. Contact a medical malpractice lawyer if you’ve experienced anesthesia awareness, as you may have a case on your hands.
What Is Anesthesia Awareness?
Anesthesia awareness is the name given to waking up while under general anesthesia during surgical medical procedures. Around one in 1,000 people experience anesthesia awareness. That’s approximately 0.1% of all patients who are operated on under general anesthesia.
Patient reports of serious distress post-surgery, severe pain, and even post-traumatic stress disorder aren’t uncommon after experiencing anesthesia awareness. Sometimes anesthesia awareness can lead to catastrophic consequences of trauma for those who experience it.
What Is Anesthesia Supposed to Do During Medical Procedures?
Anesthesia is supposed to ensure patients can’t feel pain during surgery. However, if there’s an anesthesia error, then you’ll feel physical sensations, often leading to severe anxiety and long-term psychological damage.
Types of Anesthesia
Patients given general anesthesia should be totally asleep during their surgery. When you hear about patients waking up during surgery, this is the type of anesthesia they’ve been given.
Patients should not be conscious or aware under general anesthesia, and an anesthesiologist will be there to constantly monitor vitals such as blood pressure and ensure patients don’t become conscious during the procedure.
Regional anesthesia allows patients to stay awake during your surgery without feeling pain. It numbs an entire limb, such as an arm or leg.
The surgical team and anesthesiologist will regularly check in to make sure the patient is still pain-free.
Local anesthesia is applied to an even smaller part of the body your doctors are working on, such as a patch of skin, a tooth, or an eye. The patient will remain awake during these surgeries.
The doctor will, of course, check in with the patient during the procedure to ensure the patient doesn’t feel pain.
Note patients who feel sensations during local and regional anesthesia don’t truly experience anesthesia awareness like patients who regain consciousness do.
Is Anesthesia Awareness a Form of Medical Malpractice?
Anesthesia errors are a type of medical malpractice you could recover compensation for. Patients becoming aware during a surgical procedure doesn’t usually happen randomly, and it can occur due to negligence on the part of your doctors or your anesthesiologist.
Contact a Wendt Law attorney so you can learn whether or not you can take legal action in your case. Many factors can influence whether or not it’s possible to recover damages when you wake up during surgery.
When Is Becoming Awake During Surgery Medical Negligence?
When Faulty Equipment Is Used
If the hospital is performing surgeries using faulty equipment, then that hospital can be held liable for negligence. Equipment failure should never happen during medical procedures.
Sedation must be administered both correctly and using up-to-date, fully functional drugs and equipment during every operation.
Medication administered with ill-working equipment can lead to these traumatic cases of the patient becoming awake during surgeries.
When the Anesthesiologist Is Negligent
If your anesthesiologist is negligent and is not properly monitoring your vitals, then you may wake during surgery.
Most of the time, the anesthesiologist will notice when a patient is close to waking and administer additional sedation to put the patient back under. However, if they don’t notice, then you may regain awareness.
When Your Doctors Are Negligent
Negligent doctors may mix up your charts, take down information incorrectly, or fail to take your medical history into account when making decisions regarding medication.
This can result in them giving your anesthesiologist incorrect information, leading to an incorrect dose of anesthesia.
If an incorrect dosage is administered, then you’re more likely to regain awareness during procedures under general anesthetic.
Can Anesthesia Awareness Have Long-Term Effects?
Around half of the people who’ve experienced anesthesia awareness suffer long-term psychological damage. Nightmares, general anxiety, and flashbacks are common for patients who wake up during surgery.
These long-term effects mean that any patient waking up during surgery is at risk of having the rest of their life tainted by the experience. This is why you should most definitely make a legal claim for this medical error if you can.
Financial compensation can’t get rid of your problems, but it can help with some of the consequences of this anesthesia error, such as having to take up time off work due to anxiety, ending up with severe mental health issues, and more.
What Kind of Damages Can I Recover If I Wake Up During Surgery?
Pain and Suffering
You can most definitely recover damages for pain and suffering if it’s determined the anesthesia awareness you suffered was medical malpractice.
Competent physicians should ensure you cannot feel anything during the procedure, and pain control is supposed to be properly administered in all surgical procedures. The amount you could win in pain and suffering could be quite substantial because of this.
Medical Bill Reimbursement
Winning a medical malpractice case can have you reimbursed for the money you had to spend getting the procedure, staying in the recovery room, and dealing with any medical issues you had after the procedure.
If you had to take time off work after you experienced anesthesia awareness, then you can be reimbursed for income you missed out on earning during this time.
You can also be reimbursed for income you should’ve earned while taking time off work to have your surgery in the first place.
If you had to leave your job due to the psychological effects of anesthesia awareness, then you may be able to claim compensation for lost income after this, too.
Loss of Quality of Life
Loss of quality of life is a type of non-economic damage many patients win after being left injured or ill by negligent physicians. If your life has been severely impacted and its quality has declined after a doctor failed to administer anesthesia properly, then you may be compensated for this.
Contact Wendt Law Firm P.C. at 816-542-6734 if you wake up during surgery. You may be able to make a legal claim for medical malpractice. We’ll give you a free consultation to help you determine what you can do next.