More patients choose to stay awake during surgery

Many patients appreciate the option to stay awake and watch their doctor work during a surgical procedure.

Some surgeons find themselves under increased supervision during their procedures these days, as patients elect to stay awake and watch them work. High-profile stories about concurrent surgeries and surgeon misconduct could be driving the trend. 

A recent New York Times article examined this increased willingness among patients to become more engaged with and involved in their own care, as well as a way to retain control over their care and guard against mistakes.

Other benefits include reduced complications compared to general anesthesia, as well as speedier recovery times—both of which could save money, noted the Times.

Alexander Langerman, M.D., of Vanderbilt University Medical Center, noted that some surgeons can look to their own conduct for one motivating factor for patients. “The occasional scandals that emerge while patients are sedated continue to erode their trust in us,” he says.

For patients whose constitutions were up to observing their own procedures, the Times reported higher satisfaction, especially for those who would otherwise have incurred additional recovery time and expense to be put under general anesthesia. 

Doctors shepherding their assistants through a surgical technique require extra caution with conscious patients, according to one Mount Sinai Medical Center doc. “You have to recognize that the patient may be listening intently and they’re nervous.”