After your anaesthetic

After your anaesthetic

After your operation you would most likely be taken to the recovery room. This is a space where you are closely monitored post-surgery to make sure you are safe to go up to a ward or in day surgery cases, home. If you underwent a smaller procedure you may be taken to a recovery bay or a private room. If you were quite unwell going into surgery or require a major surgery, for example open heart surgery, you would be taken straight to the intensive care unit or high dependency unit for close monitoring. This offers a high specialist level of nursing and medical care.

When you are transferred to the recovery room, your anaesthetist will do a handover and provide the recovery room nurse with a brief report. This will include a description of:

  • your preoperative condition, including any medical illnesses and medications
  • the surgical procedure
  • the course of the anaesthetic, including any problems with your airway, any need for airway control in the recovery room, and the adequacy of recovery of muscle strength
  • intravenous cannulae
  • intraoperative fluid balance (how much intravenous fluid you were given and how much fluid you lost, including blood loss)
  • any other important information.

While this description is being given, the nurse usually places an oxygen mask over your face to give you extra oxygen and attaches a blood pressure cuff and a pulse oximeter to keep a close eye on vitals coming off anaesthetic. You may or may not be conscious at this stage.

You may still have a plastic airway or breathing tube in place. This tube assists the anaesthetist in taking over your breathing in the operating room as you are unable to breath unassisted. Exactly when this tube is removed depends on your condition. Your anaesthetist might choose to remove the tube while you are still in the operating room. On the other hand, if you are still unconscious it could be left in until the medications lighten, and you start to wake up.

Once your anaesthetist is confident that your vital signs are stable and that your safety is assured, the process of ‘transfer of care to the recovery room nursing staff’ occurs. This means that the nurses are now responsible for your care and your anaesthetist may leave you to return to the operating room to start the anaesthetic for the next patient on the surgical list.

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