Section 23
Anesthesia and surgery


Any advice to the patient with respect to driving should be noted in the medical record.

23.1 Overview

Both anesthesia and surgery can have a significant, although temporary, effect on driving ability.

23.2 Outpatient surgery

Patients having outpatient surgery under general anesthesia should not drive for at least 24 hours. The pain and discomfort following even minor surgical procedures may extend this prohibition period to several days.

23.3 Procedures

Any outpatient surgical or diagnostic procedure may render patients temporarily unfit to drive. Instructions to patients should include the necessity to provide a means to return home and the advisability of avoiding driving until all effects of the procedure have resolved. Patients who do not have a means to return home should not undergo the planned procedure until arrangements have been made.

Oral surgery and dental procedures: Fitness to drive may be affected temporarily following oral surgery with local anesthesia and dentoalveolar procedures such as placement of implants. Factors affecting driving performance after the procedure might include stress, pain, and exhaustion. Given the number of adults who undergo oral surgery, the impact on postoperative driving safety may be considerable. Patients undergoing such procedures should be advised not to drive themselves home after the procedure.

23.4 Major surgery

After major surgery, each patient’s recovery should be evaluated individually. Any lingering or permanent effects of anesthesia should be subject to functional evaluation.

23.5 Conscious sedation

Anyone undergoing conscious sedation should be counselled to avoid driving for 24 hours.


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