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Did You Wake Up During Surgery?

Mellino Law Firm

Researchers spent four years studying accidental awareness during general anesthesia in order to learn when and how it happens, according to The Atlantic last Saturday.

As for when, they found that about 1 in 19,000 patients regain consciousness during surgery, typically at the beginning or toward the end, per Headlines & Global News. This number contradicted the 1 in 1,000 that The Atlantic reported previously, but the current study noted that statistics vary depending on the operation. For instance, as many as 1 in 670 women awaken during C-sections.

“The ‘vast majority’ of AAGA instances lasted less than five minutes,” The Atlantic’s September 20, 2014, article said. But those five minutes undoubtedly felt much longer as they tried to alert the surgeon but couldn’t because they were unable to move or speak. Some struggled to breathe, others said they heard surgeons’ voices, and 18 percent said they felt pain.

Afterward, about 41 percent of these patients suffered moderate-to-severe psychological effects, such as PTSD.

Eighty-five percent told someone about what happened, but only 50 percent told the hospital. Unfortunately, those who did report the incident were met with skepticism.

“When I related surgically-related conversations to the theatre team, they went a little white, but continued to deny what had happened,” one patient named Sandra said.

Not surprisingly, this sort of cynicism worsened patients’ mental state. Sandra suffered nightmares for 15 years, CBS News said.

In 2007, CNN suggested that patients address any anesthesia concerns with their doctor before surgery. For instance, age, obesity, prescription drugs and over-the-counter supplements can all affect the amount of anesthesia a patient needs. Diseases such as cancer and diabetes could also affect the patient’s risk of anesthesia awareness.

Man Wakes Up During Surgery, Files Lawsuit

Several years ago, a 22-year-old man regained consciousness for about half an hour during a 50-minute long operation on his collapsed lung. His lawsuit claimed he couldn’t move or speak. He told his local newspaper that he’d been in severe pain and left the operating room angry.

“Usually anesthesiologists can tell if a patient is coming out of sedation, because heart rate and blood pressure will soar as the patient realizes what is happening,” a professor and chair of anesthesiology and critical care told NBC News. “And, normally, the anesthesiologist will increase the amount of anesthesia at that time.”

Two years before this happened, latimes.com said nearly a dozen anesthesia awareness lawsuits had been filed across the country. One woman, whose anesthesiologist settled the medical malpractice claim out of court, awoke while having an eye removed after 17 unsuccessful surgeries for a scratched cornea. Seven years later, she still suffered from PTSD, insomnia, and could recall every word that was said during her operation.

If you woke up during surgery, our anesthesia awareness attorneys invite you to contact our Cleveland office for a free consultation.

Why Should I Trust Chris Mellino to Handle My Anesthesia Awareness Lawsuit?

First, Mellino Law Firm does not advertise. Attorneys and satisfied clients send us the majority of our cases. Others find us online.

Second, peers respect Chris Mellino for his ability to dig below the surface to find out what really happened. Chris has litigated claims that spanned several years, went to the Ohio Supreme Court, and changed state law. Those cases include Moskovitz v. Mt. Sinai Medical Center (1994) and Watkins_v._Cleveland_Clinic_Foundation (1998). In the latter, he and his previous partner were awarded the largest verdict in the state that year.

Third, medical malpractice lawsuits are labor intensive, so we’re selective about the claims we accept. Some firms take every case that walks in the door, leave clients in the hands of “case managers,” ignore their phone calls, and then settle their claim for the first amount the defendant offers in order to fund their next commercial to bring in even more clients. Mellino Law Firm only pursues compensation for patients who’ve suffered a debilitating injury or death. This enables us to give each client the attention he or she deserves.

Lastly, since 2010, Mellino Law Firm has been the only anesthesia awareness law firm in Cleveland to be accepted into Primerus, which screens potential members by speaking to judges, other lawyers, bar associations, clients, and insurance carriers about a firm’s integrity, work product, fee structure, education, civility, and community service.

If you have questions after waking up during surgery, attorney Chris Mellino invites you to contact our Cleveland office for a free consultation before Ohio’s statute of limitations expires on your potential claim.

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