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February 8, 1995

Anesthesia-Related Risks Have Plummeted

JAMA. 1995;273(6):445-446. doi:10.1001/jama.1995.03520300015006

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NEW YORKERS often are considered a fearless lot. However, 100 who recently were surveyed said their greatest fear about anesthesia was not regaining consciousness.

The fear of dying while under anesthesia is common, officials of the New York State Society of Anesthesiology (NYSSA) said during their recent annual meeting, the largest international clinical meeting in anesthesiology. But many patients aren't aware of how drastically the chances of dying while anesthetized have dropped in the past 25 years.

"In 1970, your chance of dying from anesthesia was one in 4500, in 1985 it was one in 150 000, and today it is probably close to one in 400 000," said Margaret G. Pratila, MD, chair of public education and information at the NYSSA and associate attending anesthesiologist at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City. The one in 400 000 figure Pratila quoted is from a study by the Society

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