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Why do general anesthetics fail or work incorrectly?

General anesthesia can be a risk, even if an anesthesiologist doesn't make a mistake. Overall, anesthesia is usually safe, but there are certain kinds of health problems that can make it harder to give you anesthesia safely. If you have one of these conditions, your doctor should talk to you about the risks before you go into surgery.

If you have complications and weren't told about the risks, then this may be medical negligence, and you could choose to make a claim against your medical provider. The same is true if you wake up during surgery or feel pain while you should be asleep.

What are some of the conditions that could increase your risk of complications?

There are several conditions that increase your risk of complications. These include obesity, diabetes, obstructive sleep apnea, medications like aspirin, which increase the risk of bleeding, drug allergies and high blood pressure. If you smoke or have seizures, these can also increase your risk of complications.

How many people suffer from unintended intraoperative awareness?

You've probably heard stories about people waking up during surgery or being paralyzed and unable to awaken or tell others that they feel what's happening. It's been estimated that around one to two people out of 10,000 will be partially awake during surgery, which is called unintended intraoperative awareness, and due to the paralyzing agents, the person will not be able to alert the medical team. This can cause long-term anxiety, psychological problems and even post-traumatic stress disorder. This condition is rare, but if you have experienced it, it could have been caused by errors made by your anesthesiologist.

Source: Mayo Clinic, "General Anesthesia," accessed June 02, 2016

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