The American Society of Anesthesiologists adopted new standards Tuesday to help prevent patients from awakening during surgery but stopped short of embracing the use of new devices that monitor patient awareness. The group called for doctors to follow a checklist protocol for anesthesia equipment to make sure proper doses are being delivered.
The society approved the group's first-ever standards on preventing a rare but terrifying situation in which patients wake up during surgery and sometimes feel excruciating pain without being able to cry out. Such awakenings occur in one or two cases out of every 1,000, the group said. But the phenomenon received press coverage following some lawsuits by patients and after the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations last year urged hospitals to better monitor patients for the problem and ask them about it after surgery.