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  • Intraoperative Awareness Lawsuit



    A landmark Canadian lawsuit occurred this year for a case of intraoperative awareness with the title:

    "Woman who felt surgeons ‘rip her apart’ wins Canada’s first malpractice ruling over waking during operation"

    The whole case proceedings can be found here: CanLII - 2017 ONSC 2845 (CanLII)

    In an unfortunate and terrifying rare event Lynn Hillis suddenly was not unconscious during her cancer surgery and she felt the surgeons inside her abdomen, heard them talking, and experienced burning pain. The paralytic drugs, which were necessary for the surgery, caused her to be unable to move or speak.

    “Someone was inside me, ripping, ripping me apart,” Hillis testified recently. “It was excruciating. It was burning and burning and burning.”

    Hills sued the two anesthetists who handled her case — a staff doctor who did not stay for the entire operation, and a “fellow” — an advanced trainee — who was there the whole time.


    After the operation, Hillis recounted what one expert called an “explicit memory” of the surgery, describing events without any prompting or questions, according to the ruling by Coats.

    It was concluded that Dr. Reza Ghaffari made a mistake when he failed to sufficiently increase the dose of intravenous Propofol after reducing the flow of nitrous oxide at the request of the surgeons. The gas was distending Hillis’s colon, making it difficult for them to carry out the procedure.

    This is a horrible travesty and the worst thing to ever happen to a patient which leaves long lasting trauma. No anesthesia provider ever would intentionally allow this to happen.

    It is a sad event that reminds all anesthesia providers to be vigilant as possible.