Awareness under anaesthesia more common in obstetrics

However, the anaesthesia awareness audit covering all UK and Irish hospitals over a one-year period suggested the overall incidence of ‘waking up’ under anaesthesia was lower than previous estimates, at about one in every 19,000 anaesthetics compared to as much as one or two per 1000 in some studies.

The authors said obstetric anaesthesia was over-represented among surgical specialties – being 10 times higher – with the majority of obstetric cases occurring during caesarean sections.

Cardiothoracic surgeries were also over-represented at twice the general rate.