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How often do people wake up during surgery?

If your surgery goes as planned, they put you out with anesthesia before the procedure begins and you only wake up when they are done. You have an anesthesiologist with you at all times, and it is their job to monitor your levels and make sure this happens. That’s how the doctors described it to you when planning the procedure and setting everything up.

However, you have heard stories of people waking up during surgery. Often, they talk of being conscious and being able to feel everything but still being paralyzed. You can think of nothing more frightening than being aware and awake, though immobilized, while the surgical team is still working on you. Is this something that happens often?

It is not that common, according to some sources, which put it at just one incident for every 19,600 patients who have surgery. However, other studies put it at one in 670. That’s massively higher, so what is the difference?

The difference is in the type of anesthesia used and how aggressive it is. The higher rate is connected to light anesthesia types that may be used during C-sections, for instance, rather than the heavy medications that may be used during something like heart surgery. Logically, it does make sense that these lighter doses that are not supposed to keep people under for as long could be the ones to see the higher wakefulness rates.

Either way, both studies confirm that this is something that happens, and it is a risk people face. If you find yourself in this position, you need to know what legal options you have.