March 6, 2009
PRESS RELEASE: In recognition of National Patient Safety Week March 8- 14 the American Society of Anesthesiologists and the Anesthesia Awareness Campaign, are working together to educate patients on the occurrence and treatment of anesthesia awareness.
Read the press release here.
ANESTHESIA AWARENESS NEEDS YOU!
Please read some special news about the Campaign,our special financial needs, its President’s “challenges” , and how important you are to bringing awareness to awareness! Read here.
CAROL WEIHRER'S UPDATE FROM THE 2008 ASA CONFERENCE
Carol Weihrer attended the American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) Annual Meeting in Orlando, Florida. Read her update here.
CAROL WEIHRER'S RECENT APPEARANCES:
Carol Weihrer appeared on on ABC's talk show The View on March 31, 2008.
On March 27, 2008, Carol Weihrer was honored to be invited to be one of two panelists at a Congressional senior staffer briefing on March 25. It has been suggested that victims add to their “action list” a letter to their Senators and Congressmen in Washington about your awareness, the severity of the problem and the need for it to be addressed. We are hoping to eventually speak before a relevant committee in formal hearings! Thanks for your efforts to bring awareness to awareness.
On Wednesday, December 12. 2007, Anesthesia Awareness President, Carol Weihrer, appeared on Larry King Live and participated in a panel discussion on Anesthesia Awareness.
ESSAY: MY EXPERIENCE WITH GENERAL ANESTHESIA SURGERY AFTER A PREVIOUS EXPERIENCE WITH ANESTHESIA AWARENESS
On January 20, 2008, Anesthesia Awareness President and Founder Carol Weihrer underwent general anesthesia surgery. Read her Essay on this experience.
GROUNDBREAKING WEBINAR NOW AVAILABLE
Interactive Webcast Forum now available at:
IN LOVING MEMORY OF MY FATHER, ARTHUR H. WEIHRER, JR.
I am thrilled to share the news that through the generous support of friends of my father and his family, his immediate family (especially my mother, Anna Lea Weihrer), and Aspect Medical Systems, the Anesthesia Awareness Campaign is announcing the donation of six Bi-Spectral Index Monitors to Frederick Surgical Center in Frederick, Maryland. The donation will take place on August 10, 2006, at the Frederick Surgical Center.
I’m hoping that the occasion will inspire Anesthesia Awareness victims, the public, and the medical community everywhere to understand that patient advocacy does make a difference; and if we can all work together, we can see to it that this patient safety technology is available in all hospitals and surgery centers across the country.
The Anesthesia Awareness Campaign wants to bring awareness to awareness!
The October 2005 ASA Advisory on Brain Activity Monitoring gives lip service to anesthesia awareness, but has no real teeth. Since the ASA Practice Advisory on Brain Activity Monitoring does not suggest, encourage, or mandate the availability of brain activity monitors in all hospitals, it would be difficult for those individual anesthesiologists "who choose to use monitoring on a case by case basis" to exercise that judgment if the hospital has no monitors available. This Campaign continues to encourage the ASA to strengthen the Practice Advisory by mandating the availability of brain activity monitors in all general anesthesia operating facilities.
Are You Asleep?
The Washington Post
April 18, 2006
The American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) has advised members to respect patient complaints of "intraoperative awareness" -- being awake during surgery -- after major newspapers documented the problem. Awareness occurs in one or two of every 1,000 surgeries under general anesthesia, says the ASA. It recommends doctors check patients more carefully, before, during and after an operation, and treat complaints with compassion. But it stopped short of urging doctors to use brain-wave monitors, which have been found to cut the risk of unintended awakening by 80 percent.
DID YOU KNOW?
New ASA "advisory" standards no longer require anesthesiologists to ask if a patient has any memory of their surgery - a giant step backward from the suggestions in the JCAHO Sentinel Event Alert Issue 32 of October 2004.
My father, Arthur Weihrer, died late on Friday, May 12, 2006. His wife has requested that in lieu of flowers, memorial contributions be made to the Anesthesia Awareness Campaign, Inc.
The A/A President's wishes to honor
him are to purchase a BIS Monitor for the local hospital serving him
and my mother, and/or to re-order more Anesthesia Awareness med-alert
You may send your tax-deductible memorial donations to:
new laptop computer
electronic postage scale
money for postage - always a need
helping those in need:
$24.00 provides an A/A med alert bracelet to one victim who cannot afford to buy one
ANESTHESIA AWARENESS PRESIDENT ATTENDED MAA7 MEETING IN GERMANY
Anesthesia Awareness Campaign is pleased to announce and honored that AAC President, Carol Weihrer, was invited to address the MAA7 meeting in Munich, Germany from March 13-15, 2008. The MAA(C) is a continuing symposium that normally meets every three years. She was honored to speak at the 2004 meeting in Hull, England.
February 25, 2008
On February 19th Anesthesia Awareness President Carol underwent emergency surgery. There were some serious complications that nearly took her life, but she pulled through valiantly and is recovering in the hospital, where she will remain for several more days. After that, she will continue convalescing at home. During the next few months, her availability will be limited and she will be unable to assist everyone with the speed and regularity she typically exhibits.
She requests patience, understanding, and well wishes through her recovery time. It will be some time before she is back and operating at full capacity. She asks that if you need to contact her, please do so by email instead of phone. She won't be able to respond as quickly as she wishes she could, but will make her best effort. During this time, she needs to focus on her health so she can continue to be a valuable resource and advocate.
January 7, 2008
ANESTHESIA AWARENESS CAMPAIGN ATTENDS ORAL ARGUMENTS IN SUPREME COURT LETHAL INJECTION CASE.
Oral arguments in Baze v. Rees were heard by the U.S. Supreme Court on January 7, 2008. Anesthesia Awareness campaign filed an amicus brief with the court in that case. Carol Weihrer attended oral arguments and here are her thoughts:
Going to the U.S. Supreme Court was quite an experience! I doubt anyone, especially me, ever foresees hearing oral arguments in person on a topic with which they are intimately involved, and have had the privilege of being asked to submit an amicus brief to the Court. The ruling will not come out until late Spring or early Summer. Many, many people worked extremely hard on this project, and all are to be commended.
December 12, 2007
CAROL WEIHRER ON LARRY KING LIVE TO DISCUSS ANESTHESIA AWARENESS
On Wednesday, December 12th, Anesthesia Awareness President, Carol Weihrer, appeared on Larry King Live and participated in a panel discussion on Anesthesia Awareness. Information on The Larry King Live show can be found by clicking here.
December 1, 2007
GOODMORNING AMERICA (ABC) COVERS ANESTHESIA AWARENESS ON DECEMBER 1ST.
The ABC Morning Show Good Morning America covered the issue of anesthesia awareness on December 1, 2007.
November 12, 2007
ANESTHESIA AWARENESS CAMPAIGN FILES AMICUS BRIEF IN SUPREME COURT LETHAL INJECTION CASE.
On November 13, 2007 Anesthesia Awareness Campaign filed an amicus brief with the United States Supreme Court in the Baze v. Rees lethal injection litigation case. The brief provides information on anesthesia awareness, the physical and psychological pain that results from the experience, and the safeguards that can be employed to minimize the risk of this horrible medical complication occurring. The brief was filed because the execution protocol at issue in the case carries the risk of anesthesia awareness. The position of the Anesthesia Awareness Campaign is that lethal injection protocols should not use paralyzing drugs, and nobody should ever be subjected to the risk of having conscious paralysis inflicted upon them.
November 30, 2007
Anesthesia Awareness Campaign is working to help this fictional movie also serve as an educational tool for the prevention and treatment of anesthesia awareness.
While Awake is a fictional movie, it deals with a very real medical problem. Many interviews will be appearing about my thoughts on the movie. Please check back for coverage.
CAUTION: Known victims of anesthesia awareness should think carefully about whether to see this movie or not. In my opinion, no victim of awareness should see this movie alone and perhaps not until a close friend or family member has seen it and given their personal advice.
PRESIDENT OF ANESTHESIA AWARENESS CAMPAIGN ATTENDS AMERICAN SOCIETY OF ANESTHESIOLOGISTS (ASA) ANNUAL MEETING
For the third year in a row, the President of the Anesthesia Awareness Campaign attended the Annual Meeting of the American Society of Anesthesiologists. This year's meeting was held in San Francisco.
This year the Anesthesia Awareness Campaign had an educational exhibit.
PLANS FOR 2007!
After nine years of advocacy, offering help, speaking out, traveling, and networking, 2007 promises to be a banner year for The Anesthesia Awareness Campaign! Here are a few of things we plan to do:
A COMMITMENT FINALLY MADE - PERSONALLY AND PUBLICLY
"What is the title of your book?"
"When are you going to write a book?"
"You really should write a book."
"A book is the best thing you can do to bring awareness to awareness."
"Why haven't you written a book?"
"You have to write a book."
I have heard these statements time and time again. In fact, I refer to it as "the B word." Well, the time has come, and the best way to push forward is to make a public commitment. So, here it is:
I'm working on a book!
August 10, 2006
WHILE THE TERROR LEVEL FOR INTERNATIONAL AIR FLIGHTS IS RED,WHILE WAR RAGES AROUND THE WORLD, AND THE U.N. SEEKS PEACE,THE DANGER OF ANESTHESIA AWARENESS IS REDUCED IN A GROWING CITY IN MARYLAND THROUGH QUIET PATIENT ADVOCACY
Brain Monitoring Technology to Help Prevent Patients Waking Up During Surgery
Frederick, MD – At a unique ceremony held on August 10, 2006, Frederick Surgical Center received a donation of seven Bi-Spectral Index (BIS) Monitors given by The Anesthesia Awareness Campaign (through memorial donations and family contributions) and Aspect Medical Systems of Boston. The Bi-Spectral Index Monitor is used to determine the level of consciousness in patients undergoing general anesthesia; the end result being a greater-than 80% prevention of anesthesia awareness. Anesthesia awareness is the terrifying phenomenon of being mentally alert and awake during surgery, but completely unable to communicate due to the use of paralytic drugs.The donation is made to honor the memory of Arthur H. Weihrer, Jr., who passed away in May 2006. Mr. Weihrer, in addition to being a musician, teacher of emotionally challenged children and well-known wood sculptor, was a long-time volunteer at Frederick Memorial Hospital and had strong ties to Frederick Surgical Center. Mr. Weihrer’s daughter, Carol Weihrer, is the President and Founder of The Anesthesia Awareness Campaign, which she launched after awakening during a 5½-hour eye surgery to remove her right eye in 1998. He is also survived by his wife of 56 years, Anna Lea Weihrer, of Thurmont, Maryland. The family moved to Thurmont from Oxon Hill, Maryland, in 1972.
The special ceremony was attended by approximately 25 friends of the Weihrer family, clergy from Mrs. Weihrer’s and Carol’s churches; Dr. Paul Manberg, Vice President of Aspect Medical Systems of Newton, MA; anesthesiologists Dr. Mark Seymour and Dr. Won Lee (also Medical Director of Frederick Surgical Center) affiliated with both the Surgical Center and Frederick Memorial Hospital (FMH), Vice President and CFO of FMH Bill Pugh; FMH Vice President for Medical Affairs Dr. Chet Wyman; Surgical Center Director Barbara Smith; and Surgery Center Director of Surgical Services Marjorie Blouin; and the staff of the Surgical Center. Flanked by prayers offered by The Rev. Richard Broome of Weller United Methodist Church in Thurmont, MD, and The Rev. Michael Denham of The National Presbyterian Church in Washington, D.C., surgical Center Administrator Barbara Smith introduced the dignitaries present, followed by statements by Ms. Weihrer, Dr. Manberg, and Dr. Lee and Dr. Seymour.
After these short informal speeches, the formal donation, consisting of seven Bi-Spectral Index Monitors, 700 one-use sensors, and full training of all Center anesthesia and nursing staff was completed.
The Frederick Surgical Center graciously provided an extensive and much-appreciated buffet following the event. Both Center Administrator Barbara Smith and Director of Surgical services Marjorie Blouin spent many hours preparing this special event and creating a warm atmosphere. In addition, Mrs. Anna Lea Weihrer made available a large assortment of her late husband’s woodwork, from which those in attendance were invited to select a piece to keep, while a portrait of Arthur Henry Weihrer, Jr., was placed for all to see. The corsages worn by his wife and daughter were later taken to the Resthaven Memorial Gardens, north of Frederick, and placed on his grave.
The brain activity monitors will be installed and all staff trained on the use of the BIS technology on August 28, 2006, and will then be used in each of the Frederick Surgical Center’s operating and procedure rooms. Frederick Surgical Center is now the only outpatient surgical center in the area with BIS Monitors, and one of only a few in the country to use this vital technology. Prior to the actual ceremony, a live volunteer was actually hooked up to the monitor, most accurately assessing her brain activity (while resting) at 98 out of a possible 100: 100 being fully active and alert, 0 indicating deep coma or death, and 40-60 being the desired range for most general anesthesia surgical patients.
Ms. Weihrer said, "I get calls every day from people who have experienced anesthesia awareness, but now I know I won’t be receiving any from area code 301—Frederick. With this donation, together with the monitors already in place at Frederick Memorial Hospital, the people in this community can rest easy that it won’t happen to them."
"I’m also hoping that this occasion will inspire anesthesia awareness victims, the public, and the medical community everywhere to understand that patient advocacy does make a difference," Ms. Weihrer continued, "and if we can all work together, we can see to it that this patient safety technology is available in all hospitals and surgery centers across the country."
Dr. Paul Manberg, Aspect Medical System’s Vice President of Clinical, Regulatory and Quality Assurance, said, "Carol has been one of the greatest influences in changing the anesthesia field. And she’s taught me a valuable lesson. I always used to look at science and studies, but she is a patient who’s had awareness. On the surface, it may seem like a small number statistically, but anesthesia awareness is very real to each person it happens to. This donation is to honor Carol’s dedication and to salute her father, who had done so much good work in this community."
Dr. Won Lee, Medical Director at Frederick Surgical Center, and an anesthesiologist, said, "We’re indebted to Carol for organizing the BIS monitor donation, and to Dr. Manberg and Aspect Medical Systems for donating such a generous gift. We’re very serious about patient safety and awareness at Frederick Surgical Center, and will make every effort to prevent anesthesia awareness here for our patients."
Dr. Mark Seymour, head of Anesthesiology at FMH and a part of the FSC, first came into contact with Ms. Weihrer in 2005, when her mother had serious spinal surgery at FMH. As a result of this doctor/patient/advocate acquaintance, this donation seed was sewn. "I remember getting a call from Carol, and thinking, ‘O here we go with another worried family member.’ I assured Carol that FMH had brain monitoring equipment and it would be used, and that I would try to personally handle her case. Then, when I met Mrs. Weihrer on the morning of her surgery," he laughingly recalled, "she was covered in stickers – all over her face, up and down her arms, on her hat saying that she was aware of anesthesia awareness and not to let it happen to her – in fact I had to leave the room for a minute. Carol and I then discussed anesthesia awareness."
Seymour continued, "Awareness is very real. It does happen and it has a devastating effect. In fact, my own son suffered awareness during a childhood tonsillectomy, and to this day I have trouble getting him to even come to the hospital to hang around with me."
Even Dr. Seymour didn’t know that in that very room – those 40-50 people – were three additional victims of anesthesia awareness, two of whom had spoken of their experiences for the first time. Victims, as such, were not specifically invited.
An estimated 20 million patients in the U.S. have surgery under anesthesia each year. Making sure patients receive the correct amount of anesthesia can be difficult for doctors – too little can cause "unintended intraoperative awareness with recall" -- unexpected consciousness during surgery with memory of the experience and in many cases the actual pain. Over 50% of reported awareness victims go on to suffer Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and of that 50%, 80% never recover. New research has shown that 1 to 2 patients out of every thousand receiving general anesthesia will experience awareness with recall, which translates to between 100-200 reported cases of anesthesia awareness occurring every operating day nationwide.
In 2004 the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) endorsed BIS monitoring for use in reducing the risk of intraoperative awareness with recall, more commonly known as "anesthesia awareness." BIS monitoring is the first and only technology to receive such federal clearance for helping clinicians reduce the risk of adult patients unintentionally waking up while under general anesthesia and sedation. Clinical trials demonstrated BIS-guided anesthesia reduced the risk of awareness with recall by approximately 80 percent.
Ms. Weihrer is thrilled to know that patients at The Frederick Surgical Center and FMH undergoing full general anesthesia during surgery will be virtually assured of receiving adequate sedation, thanks to the use of BIS technology in addition to the careful vigilance and expertise of their anesthesiologists.
Ms. Weihrer hopes that this donation will inspire others to take whatever means necessary to ensure that anesthesia awareness will become a threat of the past through widespread and mandatory use of brain activity monitoring technology. Patients whose lives have already been and continue to be severely affected by the trauma of anesthesia awareness are more than enough incentive to stop awareness in its tracks! The Anesthesia Awareness Campaign encourages this type of strong patient advocacy leadership worldwide.
In loving memory of . . .
The entire presentation idea was to honor, through active patient advocacy, the memory of Arthur Henry Weihrer, Jr., (November 1. 1927 - May 12, 2006). "Art" was born in Uniontown, Pennsylvania, served in the US Air Force as a trombonist in Air Force bands, started his career by playing trombone in big bands and, after earning both Bachelor’s and Master’s of Music degrees from West Virginia University in Morgantown, West Virginia, where he met his wife, Anna Lea Allman Bucklew, started a band program in LaPlata, Maryland. The Weihrer family lived in Walton, West Virginia; Dublin, Virginia; Indian Head, Maryland; Oxon Hill Maryland; and finally moving to Thurmont, Maryland, where they lived since 1972. In addition to his musical talents, "Art" discovered a talent for sculpture – starting in clay, studying 3 dimensional and bas relief woodwork at The Corcoran Gallery of Art with Heinz Werneke (who carved the 12 Apostles for the National Cathedral in Washington, DC). While still using chissels and mallet to work in large pieces of hardwoods in the bas relief tradition, he also developed his own style of making "Art in Wood" – varied and unusual pieces of jewelry and freestanding pieces. One of his most outstanding legacies is six panels of Christian symbols still in place on three corner entrances to Wesley United Methodist Church in Morgantown, WV.
His wife of 56 years, Anna Lea, is notable as a pioneer in the use of math and the earliest computers to design rockets. She later wrote the program that allowed electrocardiographs to be read by computer, assisting in the early NASA flights. She finished her illustrious career by serving with the Army at Walter Reed with TRIMIS, a tri-service medical information system, a military-wide program to standardize the use of computers in medicine for the three US Military services. Anna Lea, affectionately known as "The General," is civilian graduate of the Armed Forces Staff War College. After her retirement, she worked with Ward Systems of Frederick, Maryland, in artificial intelligence neural networks.
For more information:BIS technology is marketed and distributed by Aspect Medical Systems, Inc. (NASDAQ: ASPM), a global-market leader in brain monitoring technology. For more information visit Aspect’s Web site at http://www.aspectmedical.com/. For more information about Carol Weihrer, The Anesthesia Awareness Campaign, and anesthesia awareness information, visit www.anesthesiaawareness.com.
© Carol Weihrer
August 16, 2006
article has been expanded from a prepared press release written by
Ellie Whims of Robin Jones Marketing and Public Relations of Frederick,
Maryland, and the members of the Public Relations department of Aspect
Carol Weihrer is the contributor to this more personal article.
Use this link to see one article written about this event
ANESTHESIA AWARENESS CAMPAIGN, INC., RESPONDS TO
THE AMERICAN SOCIETY OF ANESTHESIOLOGISTS' TASK FORCE ON INTRAOPERATIVE AWARENESS AND BRAIN FUNCTION MONITORING DRAFT REPORT
Contact: Carol Weihrer, President and Founder
Anesthesia Awareness Campaign, Inc.
Anesthesia Awareness Campaign, Inc., www.anesthesiaawareness.com, a
non-profit patient education and advocacy organization, today applauds
the American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) for their July 12,
2005, issuance of a publicly available "Draft Report from the ASA Task
Force on Intraoperative Awareness and Brain Function Monitoring." This
document is accompanied by a provocative letter from ASA President
Eugene P. Sinclair, M.D., describing factors that anesthesiologists
should consider when deciding on the use of currently available brain
activity monitors that can help detect, and therefore prevent, the
devastating effects of Anesthesia Awareness. Both documents are
available at www.asahq.org.
delighted with the ASA's new open approach to allow commentary on the
Anesthesia Awareness debate, The Anesthesia Awareness Campaign believes
that the ASA communications still do not go far enough in committing
the anesthesia profession to any specific goals for improvement from
current practice, which allows 100 patients per day in the US alone to
experience awareness during general anesthesia.
Awareness is a term used to describe the phenomenon of being mentally
aware and able to think and hear and feel while totally physically
incapacitated by paralytic drugs during a surgical procedure in which
the desired result is "reversible oblivion" or unconsciousness. "We
hear directly from the victims of this devastating event on a regular
and ongoing basis," says Carol Weihrer, President of the Reston,
Virginia, based Anesthesia Awareness Campaign. Weihrer states, "I have
personally spoken with over 2500 victims of anesthesia awareness since
the Campaign's founding in 1998. In fact, I spoke with two new cases on
July 13, 2005."
Many awareness victims go on to develop serious
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), similar to that experienced by
veterans of war or survivors of horrific disasters such as "9/11."
These unfortunate and innocent people relive, sometimes daily, the
helplessness and terror and loss of control experienced during their
Sinclair poses the question: "Why not use brain monitors?" and
acknowledges that this is difficult for anesthesiologists to answer.
The Task Force document presents an exhaustive review of the scientific
literature and cites a 2500-patient study showing an 80% reduction in
the incidence of awareness when brain monitoring is used; but the Task
Force then advises members that this information is "insufficient" to
recommend use of brain monitoring. However, elsewhere in the document,
they recommend use of unproven tranquilizers (benzodiazapines) to
patients "who have unexpectedly become conscious."
Joint Commission on the Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations
(JCAHO) released Sentinel Event Alert Issue 32, Preventing and Managing
the Impact of Anesthesia Awareness, on October 6, 2004. The specific
recommendations set forth in this document show a clear understanding
of the entire spectrum of anesthesia awareness.
Below is a letter I
wrote to the author of an editorial titled Temporarily Asleep or
Comatose ) A copy was also sent to the Director of Communications of
Dear Mr. Hall,
I received a forward of your editorial about the lack of action in our country - characterized as "anesthesia awareness." I can't agree more!
However, lest there be any doubt in your mind about the reality and devastation of anesthesia awareness as a medical phenomenon, I would welcome the chance to speak to you! In fact, one awareness victim who lived in New Orleans a couple of weeks ago wrote to me and said the hurricane, the lack of response, being a refugee, losing everything she and her family owned was NOTHING compared to her anesthesia awareness experience.
Don't get me wrong -- I realize what you are writing about, and I agree that almost nothing was done correctly in responding to Katrina -- or poverty in the US -- or poor health care -- or our foreign policy -- or our morals -- or any number of other "failures."
But right now the American Society of Anesthesiologists is getting ready to make a very serious decision on the use of brain activity monitoring in surgery -- something that has been proven (in the case of one manufacturer) to reduce the incidence of life-wrecking, emotional terrorism by as much as 82%! (Refer back to the US News and World Report article). This is real! Believe it or not, there are even anesthesiologists who do not acknowledge "awareness of awareness." The ASA has not used the most commonly-known term "anesthesia awareness" to describe this problem for many months now. They have developed an array of less graphic descriptors.
I would welcome the opportunity to speak with you about "real" anesthesia awareness as an issue unto itself.
Thank you for adding one more article under the search terms "anesthesia awareness!"
Shortly after I personally experienced anesthesia awareness -- being awake but unable to move while supposedly under full general anesthesia -- while having my eye removed, I vowed to make it my mission to prevent even one person from experiencing the same horror and long-lasting consequences.
Methods to reach this goal include:
Making the public aware of the problem.
Getting the anesthesia community to admit and deal with their problems in allowing awareness to happen, be it through lack of attention, or mainly, failure to use available brain activity monitors.
The costs Anesthesia Awareness Campaign are being borne totally by my own personal commitment of time, money, energy, and outreach and research; along with a few monetary gifts. The campaign in no way "makes" any money.
The Anesthesia Awareness Campaign, Inc., is a legally tax exempt and a non-profit organization under IRS rules.
Contributions and contacts can be made by contacting:
Carol Weihrer, President and Founder
The Anesthesia Awareness Campaign, Inc.
P.O. Box 8592
Reston, VA 20195-2492