Are You Awake?

If you’ve ever had a medical test done at a hospital under something called “conscious sedation,” be aware this has the potential to be a highly risky procedure.

These days the use of conscious sedation is on the increase in outpatient centers, clinics and hospitals. This isn’t to say that the increasing rate is necessarily a bad thing, but you should be aware that there are serious risks associated with conscious sedation.

Many times this procedure is performed without any anesthesia personnel present during the administration of the drugs, during the actual test or while the patient is recovering. Anesthesia personnel include an anesthesiologist or a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA); people who assess and/or give sedation drugs. For the most part, the reason for not using anesthesia personnel is strictly a cost saving measure. It is not for patient safety.

While this might not bother the person who is undergoing the procedure, they really need to know that the drugs that are used for sedation are respiratory depressants. Where the danger arises during this type of protocol is problems assessing a patient’s physical status classification – as in how well they will tolerate anesthesia, especially if they have other health issues.

Other areas that cause concern are the dose levels of the sedation drugs and being aware of, recognizing and responding when a patient is in trouble or has slipped over the edge into a deep sedation. Personnel on deck during the procedure (who must be Advanced Cardiac Life Support or “ACLS” trained and certified) need to be able to immediately reverse the drugs, rescue a deeply sedated patient or be able to resuscitate someone who goes into cardiac arrest. The ACLS training is supposed to be updated every year; however this is not always the case.

Although conscious sedation is supposed to help patients deal with the pain and/or anxiety of certain not so pleasant tests, this “twilight sleep” has the potential to do them more harm than good. In fact, these days, the drugs to induce this kind of “sleep” are even more potent than before and are usually short acting compounds. Being more potent means the patient slips “under” much more quickly than ever.

If you or a loved one has had a brush with danger during the use of conscious sedation, and has suffered lingering side effects, contact an experienced medical malpractice attorney and discuss your potential case.

Christopher Mellino is a Cleveland Malpractice Lawyer specializing in Cleveland Medical Malpractice cases in Ohio. To learn more about Cleveland medical malpractice, Cleveland malpractice lawyer, Cleveland medical malpractice, Cleveland medical malpractice lawyer, visit