Estimates of awareness during anesthesia in nonobstetric and noncardiac surgeries are approximately 0.1% to 0.2%. Whenever lighter anesthesia is provided, the incidence increases. During cardiac surgery the incidence ranges from 1.1% to 1.5%. A higher incidence is also seen in obstetric (0.4%) and trauma cases (11% to 43%). Interestingly, although the use of anesthetic techniques associated with increased awareness (e.g., nitrous-narcotic) has decreased, the claims against anesthesiologists for awareness are increasing, recently accounting for 2% of all claims. This claim rate rivals other common complications such as aspiration pneumonia and myocardial infarction.
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