General anesthesia is an important component to many surgical procedures, because it allows the patient to remain unconscious and pain-free during surgery. It is usually administered by an anesthesiologist, who is a physician whose practice is devoted to anesthesia and pain control. Certified registered nurse anesthetists- registered nurses with advanced training- can also administer anesthesia. General anesthesia is generally safe, and its complications usually coincide with patients’ pre-existing health conditions.
Patients who smoke or who have medical conditions such as emphysema, sleep apnea or high blood pressure are at a higher risk for complications after surgery. People who have allergies have a greater likelihood of experiencing an adverse reaction to anesthesia, and patients with heart disease, kidney problems, diabetes are more likely to experience complications as well.
According to a report from the Mayo Clinic, in rare circumstances, some people wake up during surgery and are aware of their surroundings. Most patients do not have pain during the phenomenon, and due to the paralytic agents that they are given during surgery, they are not able to alert the operating room staff of their wakefulness. The rare patient that feels pain during a procedure may suffer from long-term psychological problems such as post-traumatic stress disorder.
Sometimes anesthesia complications result when the physician or nurse anesthetist over medicates the patient or does not administer enough drugs during the procedure. Patients who become ill or who are injured because of a health care professional’s mistake may be entitled to receive payment for their damages. A personal injury lawyer may be able to help patients who are entitled to compensation by seeking a settlement or filing a medical malpractice lawsuit.