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Potential Dangers of Anesthesia

The Anastopoulo Law Firm

We’ve all heard horror stories associated with anesthesia, usually regarding a patient coming out of the anesthesia during surgery, or not waking up at all after an operation. While these types of case may seem out of the ordinary and fairly isolated, they do occur. Anesthesia does have other associated risks and potential side effects that many people undergoing surgery either aren’t aware of, or choose not to think about. Injuries and deaths due to problems with anesthesia are more common than many people realize, and if you are facing an upcoming surgical procedure, it is important to know the risks involved.

Risks Associated with Anesthesia

There are three types of anesthesia that are routinely administered. Local anesthesia is the mildest, and it typically desensitizes a certain area, such as when you are having dental work done. Regional anesthesia desensitizes an entire portion of the body, such as having an epidural during childbirth. General anesthesia is the strongest form of sedation, eliminating any pain, discomfort, or even memories of the procedure by putting you into a deep sleep throughout the duration of your operation. Patients under general anesthesia require careful monitoring of their pulse, heart rate, and breathing during the course of sedation, and, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), it is this type of anesthesia that carries the greatest risks. Common risks associated with general anesthesia include:

  • Heart attack
  • Lung infections
  • Memory loss and mental impairment
  • Stroke
  • Regaining consciousness during surgery

In some cases, if anesthesia is administered inappropriately or in the wrong amounts, death can occur as the result.

Risk Factors

According to reports from doctors at the Mayo Clinic, while most healthy people don’t experience problems related to the administering or dosage of anesthesia, there are certain risk factors that people should be aware of. Factors that increase the risk of injuries during anesthesia include:

  • Smoking
  • Sleep apnea
  • Obesity
  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • History of heavy alcohol use or drug use
  • Existing conditions involving the heart, lungs, and kidneys

In addition to these risk factors, some people are allergic to certain forms of anesthesia. If you have any of the above conditions, or suspect you may be allergic to anesthesia, speak with you doctor and the anesthesiologist before planning your surgery to determine what options are available to you.

Waking Up During Surgery

The fear of waking up during surgery is common for most people. What could be more nightmarish than regaining consciousness while a doctor is performing an operation and being unable to speak or move or otherwise communicate? Waking up in the middle of an operation is called anesthesia awareness, and doctors at the Mayo Clinic estimate roughly 1 or 2 out of 1,000 people have this experience. While many people are often still numb to the pain, they will experience awareness of what is going on around them. For those who aren’t numb, the pain can be excruciating, and lead to long term psychological problems, such as post-traumatic stress syndrome.

Contact Our Experienced South Carolina Medical Malpractice Attorneys

If you or a loved one has suffered injuries due to problems or side effects of anesthesia, contact Anastopoulo Law Firm immediately. Our experienced South Carolina medical malpractice attorneys will offer you the caring, compassionate legal service you deserve, while fighting for your rights for compensation for your injuries. Call Akim Anastopoulo today for a free review of your case.


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