Is it dangerous to be left to one's own devices after IV sedation?
September 7, 2011 4:52 PM   Subscribe

Is it dangerous to be left to one's own devices after IV sedation?

I've had IV sedation once before for a dental procedure, and my friend picked me up afterward, took me home and left me lying on the sofa watching TV. I slept a bit on the sofa and went to bed later, but (as far as I'm aware) I never left my apartment or did anything weird.

Now my friend says she always felt guilty about leaving me, because I might have left my apartment and done something dangerous, such as falling down stairs or wandering off in the dark. Is this a reasonable concern? I ask because I'm having IV sedation again for a root canal, and I've asked my SIL to drop me off at home afterward. If I have every intention of staying home and watching TV (which is, after all, one of my preferred activities any old day), is there still a danger that I will decide to wander off in my pajamas, jump out my window, or do something equally bizarre? Has something like this happened to you or someone you know?

I'd prefer to be dropped off at home, but if such a danger exists, I'll ask my SIL to watch over me at her place.
posted by smilingtiger to Health & Fitness (20 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
recently i watched after someone after IV sedation. he didn't do anything dangerous or weird, but he absolutely thought he was more aware and able then he was. he kept assuring me "i feel perfectly normal now." and then the next day i referenced something we talked about/did and he was all like "huh??" and i realized he lost about about 5 more hours than he thought he had at the time.

after watching him through that, i probably wouldn't be left alone and i wouldn't leave someone i love alone. you could probably just sit there and watch tv, but you could also think you were feeling fine and try to cook or go for a walk or (eep!) try to drive. in fact, before we left the hospital i had to sign some papers assuring that i was hanging out with him all day.
posted by nadawi at 4:58 PM on September 7, 2011 [1 favorite]

When I had IV sedation for dental work, I didn't feel like doing anything after the procedure. I felt gross, and I just wanted to go to bed and sleep it off. I doubt I would've been able to wander off if I'd even wanted to.

Nevertheless, it would be a good idea to have somebody around in case you feel sick afterwards (I did) or need some help maneuvering your half-asleep body to whatever you need. You're probably not going to believe you can fly and try to take off from the roof or anything, but you're generally safer having someone around anyway.
posted by katillathehun at 5:00 PM on September 7, 2011

I have had IV sedation when my wisdom teeth were removed as did my child two weeks ago. I also had it when my stents were inserted. I see no unusual risk with being alone afterwards unless there is some special risk you have while sleeping and watching TV. (Sleep apnia or similar) If you are truly concerned, have SIL call you every hour to check in on you.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 5:13 PM on September 7, 2011

IV sedation for dental procedures is a lot lighter than the deep sedation for, say, an appendectomy. Having had both, along with some other surgical procedures, I don't think you have anything to worry about after your next dental procedure.
posted by BlahLaLa at 5:18 PM on September 7, 2011

The biggest danger is probably taking your drugs (antibiotics/painkillers) again when you've already taken them, but forgot. Maybe have someone hang out until you've taken the first dose, and/or write a note that says "Do not take until X time" (because you took the first dose at Y time).
posted by rtha at 5:18 PM on September 7, 2011 [1 favorite]

Probably nothing to worry about in most cases, but I do remember my husband stumbling around the house saying, "I feel FINE!!!" to himself for about an hour at home after he got his wisdom teeth removed. On our way home he was insistent on taking a walk around Target because he felt FINE!!! But then after that hour or so at home he slept for six hours and then needed a hand getting up to the bathroom. Might be nice to have a buddy to at least check in with you.
posted by takoukla at 5:34 PM on September 7, 2011 [2 favorites]

Recently had the same for a gastro procedure, know my way around narcs pretty well. Thought I was fine, answered a complex client call while still in the recovery room. No problems at all.

Until I got home and realized I had absolutely no idea how to work the TV remote.

So, I think the meta question is: can you trust yourself to judge your own reactions post procedure?
posted by digitalprimate at 5:52 PM on September 7, 2011 [1 favorite]

I've thrashed around and caused a lot of trouble while coming out of general (fentanyl + triazolam). As the drugs were wearing off someone must have startled me or made me feel threatened so I did what any good mammal with a self-preservation instinct would do and jumped up, yanked my IV out, muscled my way past the nurse and doctor and got most of the way back to my mom's car before I realized that I was escaping the dentist's office instead of some government testing facility (what can I say, I am a bit paranoid).

Anyhow, I was fine after that. The nurse and surgeon said most people didn't wake up so quickly or violently and wanted me to chill out in the chair a while longer until I was a bit less agitated which I did but I was still crazy irritable for the next six hours, though in no way was I a danger to myself or anyone else.

Unless you've had a bad reaction before, you're probably fine. Most of the stuff that's used for IV sedation wears off decently fast. Never hurts to have someone around though, and you'll probably feel like utter shit for a couple hours at least so some assistance with getting nutrients and fluids is always good.
posted by Matt Oneiros at 5:57 PM on September 7, 2011 [1 favorite]

"Is it dangerous to be left to one's own devices after IV sedation?"

As others have noted upthread, yes, it can be, for various reasons. Not the least being that you have little way of knowing, in advance, how your body will react to the particular sedation agents, on a particular day. Deep sedation is not a state we generally experience enough, to develop reliable experience, if you get my drift.

I'd been sedated for some oral surgery, before, and when I was scheduled for a colonoscopy, I thought the proscriptions about not being released to take a cab home were pretty harsh. I did arrange for a friend to pick me up, and take me home, and she left me at home about 15 minutes after getting me there. But she later said she worried about me all that night, as I hadn't made a lot of sense, getting home, and had stumbled a time or two, getting into the house. And she did take my truck keys, just in case, to be returned to me the following day.

I woke up early the next morning laying out in the backyard, damp with heavy summer dew, with mosquitoes and bugs buzzing around me. But, encircled sweetly by my dog, and 3 or 4 other neighbors dogs, all laying about in the grass, waiting for me to wake up, which doggies apparently all doggie thought I needed protection in my stupor.

Don't be that person that even the neighborhood dogs know needs help.
posted by paulsc at 5:59 PM on September 7, 2011 [44 favorites]

paulsc nailed it...

I've had dental sedation, my judgement was impaired for a while afterwards... I thought I could drive home.

Let someone stay with you.
posted by tomswift at 6:11 PM on September 7, 2011

Idk, I've had several iv sedations (different depths, different drugs), and generally have been pretty fine. In fact, I would rather be left alone afterwards. I don't particularly enjoy the idea of being babysat.

I can understand some people may put themselves at risk afterwards, but in my experience I desire to chill in bed with some meds.

posted by handbanana at 6:30 PM on September 7, 2011

nthing impaired judgment. I had IV sedation and the moment I woke up I was convinced that I was completely ready to leave the hospital and drive home. I'm normally a totally non combative, chill person, but I practically had a nurse arguing with me about whether I was ready to leave (in retrospect I can't believe I thought I was ready, because I was also experiencing short term memory loss at the moment when I was arguing that I was fine, because I kept forgetting if I had talked to the nurse yet or not, during the conversation with the nurse).

Anyway, yeah I understand your friend's guilt completely.
posted by telegraph at 6:46 PM on September 7, 2011

My mom drove me home after I had IV dental sedation. I was very mellow. So mellow that I thought to myself, my god, why do I keep secrets from my mom? She loves me, I love her... I should tell her everything I've been keeping from her.

So, when considering the risks, consider the risk of being a little too relaxed when you choose who your companion will be.
posted by prefpara at 6:46 PM on September 7, 2011 [5 favorites]

Another story of impaired judgement after dental sedation: a friend's husband said he felt great and insisted on helping her make dinner. He was doing fine with the vinaigrette until she caught him about to whisk in ammonia instead of vinegar. I'd vote for having somebody around - the salad you save could be your own.
posted by Quietgal at 6:51 PM on September 7, 2011 [2 favorites]

The last time I had IV sedation (for minor surgery) I felt perfectly fine! Nothing Wrong at all! My husband brought me home, got me lunch and went in to work. When friends called later, I shooed them away because I wanted to be alone and rest. Then I fell asleep in bed for several hours on top of my vibrating, loudly ringing phone and didn't hear or feel it ring when my sister called approximately 10 minutes after I got into bed. And then I woke up and took my painkillers in entirely the wrong amounts and had to call poison control to see if I'd OD'd. So, in retrospect, yes, rather impaired. But I did not OD. (Poison control said, "You're gonna have quite a stomachache!")
posted by artychoke at 8:37 PM on September 7, 2011

I'm a doctor who does a lot of IV sedations. I usually only keep people for an hour or two after the meds, but by the time they go home, they are generally able to carry on a normal conversation and walk around like normal people. They don't tend to exhibit bizarre behavior, more like mildly tipsy on alcohol type behavior.

My impression is that like most people are suggesting here, in the moment you feel pretty much normal, and although you might think things or do things that are somewhat out of character for you, anything truly dangerous that might occur would be more likely because of an accident (like leaving a burning cigarette or over burner on), rather than doing something intentional self-harming, like jumping out a window or running into traffic.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 11:29 PM on September 7, 2011

After I got my wisdom teeth out I was pretty out of it most of the day. I (barely) remember doing some silly online shopping, shipping everything to the wrong address, and then arguing with Amazon customer service.
Beyond that I was just sleepy and a bit loopy. I did have someone watching me and had them convinced I was much better off than I truly was.
posted by Pork n Beans at 2:49 AM on September 8, 2011

Had IV sedation for surgery a couple of months ago. Felt fine afterwards. Hopped out of the hospital bed, got dressed, went to Walmart (had my boyfriend with me) then home.
Beforehand, I asked the staff if I would be sick/wasted and they said it depends on the person.
posted by KogeLiz at 6:42 AM on September 8, 2011

I recently took care of a loved one who underwent sedation dentistry. She required more than the usual amount of drugs to get painlessly through the procedure, and the first words out of her mouth when I went to pick her up post-procedure ("I'mmmmm soooo drunnnnnnk") seemed about right.

It took two of us to get her into the car, and when we got to the house I had to walk her in by having her shuffle behind me, holding onto my hips for balance. She thought she was fine when, in fact, she was unable to prevent her body from lurching forward. Once inside the house, she couldn't quite figure out how to climb three stairs, so we did the hands on hip thing to get her up them. She nearly took a digger while trying to change her clothes. More hands-on-hips to navigate her back down stairs to a comfy chair. She insisted on eating blueberries but seemed confused about how to get them into her mouth. She nodded off -a lot, and often with the fruit still in her mouth. I was eventually able to convince her to lay down in bed to sleep it off. More hands-on-hips to get her there. Several times she woke to use the bathroom and staggered her way to it, bouncing off hallway walls on her way. Finally, I had to sort of baby gate her into the bedroom just so I'd hear her moving around so I could get to her to help her before she tried to do any more lurching on her own.

She remembers absolutely nothing of the day.
Yes, please let your SIL hang out with you.
posted by mcbeth at 7:50 AM on September 8, 2011

Response by poster: Belated thanks for everyone's comments! You've convinced me to stay overnight at my sister-in-law's place. (Some of these stories are pretty entertaining, too!)
posted by smilingtiger at 10:36 AM on September 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

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