Awareness under anaesthesia: the patients' point of view

Anaesth Intensive Care. 1993 Dec;21(6):837-43. doi: 10.1177/0310057X9302100616.


The collective experience of 187 patients who suffered awareness during general anaesthesia is presented. This has been collated from letters solicited in September 1992 by a women's magazine widely distributed throughout Australia and New Zealand. The responses cover anaesthetics given during a period from the 1950s to the present. The findings show a disturbing symptomatology ranging over all modalities of sensation and of postoperative psychological and psychiatric disturbances. The letters also reveal that in most cases understanding of awareness and its proper management by medical personnel was poor or totally lacking.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Analgesia, Epidural / adverse effects
  • Anesthesia, General / adverse effects*
  • Anesthesia, General / psychology
  • Attitude
  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Awareness / physiology*
  • Emotions / physiology
  • Female
  • Hearing / physiology
  • Hospitals
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Memory / physiology
  • Pain / physiopathology
  • Pain / psychology
  • Physician-Patient Relations
  • Surgical Procedures, Operative
  • Touch / physiology