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The Trauma of Waking Up During Surgery



Imagine for a second that you have noticed some type of pain that is not going away with ibuprofen, and your doctor did not have any real answers for you during your first visit. You have now decided to return to the doctor to see if they can figure anything out this time, and they determine that you are going to need surgery. At first, you are a little scared because you know that surgery can come with complications, but overall, you are willing to do what it takes to feel 100% again. However, what would happen if you were to wake up during your surgery?

Does This Really Happen?

While waking up during surgery is not the most common fear patients have, it is something that makes a handful of people scared enough to consider avoiding surgery altogether. Believe it or not, this is an occurrence that actually does happen. The good news is that it only occurs in about one or two out of every 1,000 surgeries. Although the odds are far better than winning the lottery, it still is not something that is likely to occur.


When a patient wakes up during surgery, they will likely have a tendency to freak out. Most people hate just seeing a needle penetrate their skin when getting a shot, so imagine what it is like to see your bone popped out?

Helpless Feeling

Another issue with waking up during surgery is a feeling of being helpless. Sure, the highly-skilled nurses and surgeons are in the room with you monitoring your condition. However, even after you wake up, you will still be under anesthesia, so you will likely be temporarily paralyzed, which means you cannot get up and end the surgery.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

While freaking out when you wake up to see your skin split open and a bone hanging freely might seem bad, patients who wake up during surgery also often deal with post-traumatic stress disorder, which is better known as PTSD. This is essentially where you will have flashbacks of the event, and it may mentally paralyze you from performing daily tasks as you once did. Additionally, it can certainly make you quite apprehensive about having future surgeries.


Finally, when patients wake up during surgery, the medical facility can be susceptible to a lawsuit. Sure, the patients likely signed waivers before the surgery begun, but these kinds of events still should not happen.

While the odds of waking up during surgery are not as great as many may believe, this does occur on occasion. When it does, it can be a frightening event for anyone to experience.