April 20, 2013

Versed: is this common sedative ethical?

I've been reading a lot about versed, a common sedative used for medical procedures. There are a lot of horror stories about it (like this one), and a quick Google search will bring back plenty of examples.

Here's the gist: the intention is to sedate patients during surgeries where they need to be conscious—in order to follow basic instructions, etc.—such as wisdom teeth extractions. Versed is advertised as being able to keep patients comfortable and keep the pain to a minimum. However, far too many reports indicate that patients under the drug feel all pain associated with the operation—they just don't remember it later.

Consider the implications here. Just because you don't remember something doesn't mean it didn't happen. During the operation, you still suffer—you just lose your memory of the pain. I read one story of a man who heard his wife's screams during surgery, though when asked about it she didn't remember anything that happened in the operating room.

Further, versed has been known to cause short-term memory loss following surgery. Often the amnesia doesn't occur until months after the administration of the drug, so people don't make the connection.

What are your thoughts on this? Is the use of versed as a sedative ethical? Is not remembering pain equivalent to never having experienced it to begin with? Is it worth the side effects?

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