Accidental awareness during anaesthesia is rarer than previously thought, audit shows

BMJ 2014; 349 doi: (Published 10 September 2014) Cite this as: BMJ 2014;349:g5499
  1. Jacqui Wise
  1. 1London

A patient accidentally remaining aware during general anaesthesia occurs in about 1 in every 19 000 cases, the largest ever study of the complication has found—a much lower incidence than previous estimates.

Remaining conscious during general anaesthesia is one of the most common concerns that patients discuss before surgery. Some studies, which used a structured questionnaire to detect awareness immediately after anaesthesia, had estimated the incidence to be as high as 1 in 600.

The 5th National Audit Project,1 carried out by the Royal College of Anaesthetists and the Association of Anaesthetists …

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