Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Fear General Anesthesia

Aug 9th, 2017No Comments

General Anesthesia

General anesthesia is a scary topic – and a downright terrifying undertaking – for people around the world. The thought of being unconscious while a doctor performs a surgical procedure can make anyone fear the worst. However, there’s plenty of evidence to suggest that general anesthesia is safer than you believe. Here are some of the most important reasons why you shouldn’t fear it.

Statistics from Reputable Sources

Statistics are often the best way to get the “big picture” when it comes to healthcare and medicine. Back in the 1980s, nearly one in 5000 people who underwent general anesthesia would die from it, either directly or indirectly. However, great strides in technology and research have changed this. Per a research committee that was part of the Institute of Medicine back in 1999, anesthesia mortality rates in 1999 – not even two decades later – had dropped to one death per 200,000 to 300,000 anesthetized patients.

What’s more, these statistics didn’t just represent healthy people who reacted to anesthesia; they accounted for all deaths of anesthetized patients, even those who had serious medical issues prior to their surgeries. This means that many of those who died had preexisting health conditions that likely increased their risk significantly, but the surgeons, doctors, and even the patients themselves felt that the benefit of the surgery outweighed the risk.

Comparative Risk

With those numbers in mind, it’s relatively simple to compare the risk of anesthesia to the risk of other activities you perform daily. Again, the odds of death from anesthesia, whether you’re healthy or ill, is roughly one in 200,000 to 300,000. The facts and figures below come from the National Safety Council.

  • Driving a car. Whether you drive the car or you’re a passenger, your odds of being involved in a fatal accident are about one in 6700 on any given day – that’s a far greater risk than anesthesia, but you probably ride in a car almost every day. Over the course of your lifetime, that risk climbs to one in 84.
  • The flu. Nearly 60,000 people die each year due to complications of the flu virus. During your entire lifetime, this means the chances of fatal flu infection average one in 63.
  • Cold exposure. To put things into even better perspective, only about 620 people die each year due to exposure to cold, which is very uncommon in this country. However, per statistics compiled from numerous sources, general anesthesia is the direct cause of only 64 deaths each year, but it’s a factor in about 400 more deaths.

Well-Trained Anesthesiologists

In response to high mortality rates up until the 1980s, medical boards changed the requirements involved in becoming a licensed anesthesiologist. These days, individuals must have more training than they did in those days, and they’re very attentive to patients’ vital signs during procedures. Anesthesiologists make constant adjustments to medication dosages to ensure you remain unaware, but that your organs continue to function normally with the least possible amount of stress.

As you can see, while there is some risk involved in general anesthesia provided during surgical procedures, there’s no real need to feel a sense of excessive fear. The odds of death – or even a significant complication – due to general anesthesia is incredibly slight.

Written by Dr. Jeffrey Spiegel

The office of Dr. Jeffrey Spiegel, Advanced Facial Aesthetics located in Boston, MA offers a variety of cosmetic surgery procedures and treatments including Botox, FFS, Rhinoplasty and many others. Call 617-566-3223 or email us at Google+

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *