Can I File a Lawsuit if I Regain Consciousness During Surgery?

Patients are often concerned when going into surgery due to the complex procedures involved. One of the patients’ primary concerns is waking up while surgery is still being performed.

Statistics have shown that one or two patients in every 1,000 wake up during surgery. These figures are pretty high since thousands of surgical procedures are performed daily.

So, what happens when you wake up during surgery? Can the medical team be held accountable for situations when patients regain consciousness? The reality is that the experience tends to differ from person to person.

Read on to find out more information on what happens when you wake up during surgery and whether this is legal grounds for a lawsuit.

All About Anesthesia Awareness

General anesthesia is administered to patients before surgical procedures inducing sleep, numbness, and paralyzing muscles. This prevents the patient from feeling pain from surgical incisions and making involuntary movements during the procedure.

Anesthesia awareness is when anesthesia fails or wears off before the surgery is complete, and the patient regains consciousness. During this time, the patient is aware of their surroundings, feels pain, or can move.

Anesthesia awareness could potentially harm patients, especially when the surgical team is unaware that the patient is regaining consciousness. It could also result in psychological trauma.

Why Patients Regain Consciousness During Surgery

Patients are put under anesthesia to get through surgeries without feeling anything. Unfortunately, some patients may wake up before the procedure is complete. Here are some reasons why this may happen.

  • Failure to administer the correct anesthesia dose- this could ultimately lead to unprecedented wearing off of the drug or complete inability to block pain or make patients unconscious.
  • Patient resistance to anesthesia- the human body reacts differently to anesthesia; some people are more resistant to these drugs and quickly regain consciousness even when the right dose is administered.
  • Defective equipment used to administer anesthesia- this may lead to incorrect anesthesia dosage.
  • Administering anesthesia to patients with pre-existing medical conditions that cannot withstand complications from anesthesia. 

Your medical team should be aware if you are regaining consciousness during surgery. They could administer more anesthesia to make you unconscious once again. In case the team fails to notice you are regaining consciousness, the consequences can be dire.

Filing a Medical Malpractice Claim After Regaining Consciousness During Surgery

Anesthesia awareness could be grounds for a medical malpractice claim against a medical team. This is particularly applicable if the error was due to negligence. You could receive compensation for the following:

  • Physical pain and emotional distress are caused by the pain experienced during surgery.
  • Medical bills for any damage
  • Therapy costs for any psychological treatment
  • PTSD, depression, reduced quality of life from anxiety
  • Lost wages from effects of regaining consciousness during surgery

Final Thoughts

The experience of regaining consciousness during surgery varies from patient to patient. While some may have vague sights or sounds, others are fully aware of the activities around them. Patients may even think of the whole experience as a dream in some situations.

Most patients that regain consciousness do not experience pain but can feel the surgical team working. However, others will experience pain and develop post-traumatic stress disorder. “If anesthesia awareness causes physical pain or psychological trauma be sure to speak to a lawyer to help understand your options” says, Felix Gonzalez of Felix Gonzalez Accident and Injury Law Firm.

Leave a Comment