ARE THERE RISKS IN HAVING AN ANAESTHETIC?
WHAT WE DO TO KEEP YOU SAFE
Australia is one of the safest places in the world to have an anaesthetic.
All of our Anaesthetists are specialists who have completed a medical degree and at least a further five years of specialist training in anaesthesia, intensive care, resuscitation and pain management.
Our practice is actively involved in continuing medical education with all partners regularly attending local, national and international conferences.
We employ a practice nurse who coordinates several clinical audits to ensure that we are offering the safest and highest quality service to our patients.
However, like any medical procedure, there are some risks, though we strive to minimise the chance of these happening. If you think that you may have experienced a complication of your anaesthetic, please contact the Anaesthetic Group Ballarat on (03) 5331 4888 or after-hours through the St John of God Hospital on (03) 5331 6677 or the Ballarat Base Hospital on
(03) 5320 4000.
If there was a problem during your anaesthetic, you have a right to know about it and it may be important information for future anaesthetics. Your Anaesthetist will visit or contact you after your procedure to explain what occurred and answer any questions. You have the right to see your anaesthetic record if you wish and your Anaesthetist can explain what is written there.
The risk to you as an individual will depend on:
Please do not be alarmed by some of the following. More serious reactions are extremely rare and of a similar likelihood or less to the risks you take in day-to-day living such as crossing the road.
Side effects are secondary effects of a treatment that are often unavoidable but usually short lived and minor.
Complications are unexpected and unwanted events that are often more serious
Minor Side Effects
Very Rare - Serious Complications
For further information please visit www.arcbs.redcross.org.au/Default.asp
I AM WORRIED I MAY DIE
Death related to anaesthesia is extremely rare. Type of surgery (in particular if the surgery is an emergency such as for major trauma), underlying medical condition, physical status, and age all impact on the rate of death.
According to the American Society of Anaesthetists (ASA) classification system, which is based upon the overall health of the patient, for a healthy patient (known as ASA 1) undergoing surgery the incidence of death is about one in 100,000. This is similar to the risk of dying from an accident in your home each year and much safer than driving a car each year.
If combined, the incidence of death of patients with all different physical conditions, including those that are not expected to survive with or without the operation (ASA 4), is one in 50,000.
MY GRANDPARENT DIED UNDER ANAESTHESIA
Death related to anaesthesia is extremely rare. Type of surgery (in particular if the surgery is an emergency such as for major trauma), underlying medical condition, physical status, and age all impact on the rate of death. Also there have been enormous advances in the safety of anaesthesia over the last few decades.
There are some extremely rare genetic conditions that can mean you inherit an increased risk having an anaesthetic. These are well worked out these days, and if we suspect that you are at risk, easily avoided.
If you are concerned that you may have one of these rare conditions, please contact our rooms on (03) 5331 4888 in advance of your procedure to allow us time to find out all the information we can.
I have had a problem ever since my anaesthetic
If you feel that there is something wrong since your procedure and anaesthetic, there are many possible causes. The problem may be due to the original reason you had the procedure or it may be a complication of the surgery in which case you should contact your surgeon, physician or your GP. If you think you may have suffered a complication of the anaesthetic please contact our practice nurse at the Anaesthetic Group Ballarat on (03) 5331 4888.
Could I wake up during the surgery?
For many procedures, sedation is used instead of a full general anesthetic. This is common for operations such as gastroscopy, colonoscopy and skin lesion removal. The aim is to make you relaxed and usually unaware of what is going on. Usually you remember nothing of the procedure yet wake up very quickly. Occasionally you may feel that you were too awake and aware of what was happening; this is normally easy to detect and we just give more drugs. If this has happened to you before, let your anaesthetist know when you speak to him/her before the procedure and we can make sure that you receive enough medications.
If you are awake during a general anaesthetic this is known as "awareness". It is one of the biggest concerns for patients about to undergo surgery. Though it may worry patients, this condition can be almost entirely eliminated by the anaesthetist, with fewer than 1 in a 1000 patients remembering any part of their operation and most of these not recalling any pain.
Some operations are associated with a higher risk of awareness than others. They include cardiac surgery, emergency surgery, surgery associated with massive blood loss and caesarean section.
Specialised monitoring equipment is available to assist anaesthetists to assess the depth of anaesthesia. Such equipment includes processed electro-encephalography such as Bispectral Index Scale (BIS) and Entropy, which record electrical wave patterns in the brain and assign a score which reflects the depth of unconsciousness. These monitors have been shown to reduce the incidence of awareness, particularly in high-risk cases.