How often do people wake up during surgery?

On Behalf of | Jan 6, 2022 | Medical Malpractice

When you’re going in for major surgery, they will give you general anesthesia. This means that you’re going to be entirely unconscious during the procedure. It’s not just a way to numb your pain but to put you under until the operation is done. You will then be given painkillers afterward as you heal. 

One thing that people worry about in these situations is that they’re going to wake up before the surgery is over. This can be incredibly traumatic, it can lead to injuries, it can lead to a lot of mental and emotional trauma, and it should never happen. But how often does it happen? How often do people wake up from the anesthesia while the surgeon is still operating? 

Once in every 1,000 cases 

This problem is called anesthesia awareness, and different studies have found very different numbers. For instance, one study found that it happens in one case for every 600 surgeries. Another found that it only happened once for every 17,000 surgeries. This has led medical experts to say that the average is roughly one incident for every 1,000 procedures. 

This is both good and bad. On the one hand, you are statistically unlikely to be the one person out of 1,000 who wakes up during surgery. On the other hand, there are thousands upon thousands of surgical procedures carried out every year in the United States, so this is something that happens consistently.

It could happen to you. If it does, and if you suffer harm as a result, make sure you know about all of your legal rights. This could be malpractice if the surgical team were negligent.