People who are going in for surgery often worry that they may wake up during the procedure. They have heard stories of this happening, and they know that it often means that the patient cannot move or speak, or the patient can move in a very limited fashion, such as blinking or opening their eyes. Also, the patient can still feel everything. You can understand how concerning this would be with major surgery, as the pain and suffering it leads to would be immense.
But does it really happen? Or is it just one of those things that gets repeated because it is memorable and frightening?
It can happen, but it is rare
The stories are not fabrications. This can and does happen. However, it is also quite rare, so the odds are small. According to the American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA), this happens in merely “one or two of every 1,000” procedures where general anesthesia is used.
Most people will only have a handful of surgeries in their life, so it is not likely that they will wake up as it is happening. That is much different than having zero odds of waking up, though, and every person who has this happen to them will not be comforted just by the fact that it is rare.
There are numerous reasons for this medical mistake, but it could just be that you were not given enough anesthesia or that the surgical team did not properly monitor you during the procedure. They are supposed to keep an eye on vital signs and other information, but surgery can be chaotic and things get overlooked.
If this happens to you, you may have a right to seek compensation for your pain and suffering, along with any other costs and losses.