Disabled patient, Corey Burke was awake all through operation but couldn’t scream for help after anesthetic failed


 Disable patient has described the torturous moment he lay awake during a “very uncomfortable” operation after his anaesthetic didn't work.  

 The autistic man said he wasn’t allowed to have his mentor with him, and was unable to communicate to surgeons that he was still conscious.

 25-year-old Corey Burke, from Queensland, Australia spoke of his ordeal as part of the Disability Royal Commission.

Mr Burke has an intellectual disability and told the inquiry he would usually have had a mentor in with him during pre-operation care.

Mr Burke said his mentor, Gary, would "keep him calm" prior to any surgery but on this occasion the anaesthetist asked the mentor to leave the room.

Mr Burke said his adrenaline would often rise prior to surgeries and his body would fight off anaesthetic.

Recalling the surgery, he said: “They gave me the anaesthetic, but I didn’t go under.”

“I think this wouldn’t have happened if my mentor was in the room with me.”

“My mentor would have helped me to keep me calm and stopped my adrenaline going up.”

Corey Burke said he was unable to communicate with doctors and stop the surgery

Due to his disability, which Mr Burke said is invisible, he was unable to communicate with the doctors so he was powerless to stop the surgery despite him being able to feel everything.

He said he was “still conscious and tried to tell them, but they did the operation anyway.”

He added that while the surgery ”wasn't painful but it was very uncomfortable".

Mr Burke is now campaigning for doctors to have more training to deal with people who have a disability.

He said: "People with special needs need a little extra care, especially if they get anxiety or nervous.”

"If a person is having a meltdown, it may not be part of their disability and it isn't because they're a bad person."

Mr Burke said health professionals needed to understand the importance of tools that could support people with disability during their treatment.

He told the inquiry he used a "toolkit", which included a safety blanket and other sensory items, that helped his anxiety and argued these should be allowed in hospitals.

He said: “People don’t know that I have a disability. My disability isn’t visible. Sometimes nurses don’t know I have a disability until they talk to me.”

Mr Burke is also calling for a colour-coded system to be implemented in hospitals to help identified patients with disability.

He said: “Nurses and doctors would know that someone has a disability, even if they're busy and don't have time to read the file.”

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