Evaluating the Patient

Once a patient is registered they will be taken to an area where they will be prepared for surgery.  This area has many names such as pre-op or surgicare.  This area in the hospital or surgicenter is run by a team of nurses whose sole purpose is to prepare the patient for surgery.  Once they identify the patient and confirm the diagnosis and procedure they will begin their task.  They will obtain your weight which is important for the anesthesiologist who will dose your medications based on your weight.  Knowing your weight will determine if you are at risk due to obesity.  Early on they will obtain your vital signs, in other words your pulse rate, respiratory rate and blood pressure.  You will be taken to a room where you will disrobe and put on a gown with a long slit in the back.  It is highly functional for the medical staff but it can be uncomfortable and even embarrassing for the patient if you decide to walk to the bathroom.

Operating Room Charge Nurse

The nurse in charge of your case will meet with you and review some of the specifics of your case.  They will want to verify your diagnosis, surgery, allergies, recent history and history especially any surgeries that may have been ordered.  This is not as detailed as the history from the pre-operative evaluation but tends to focus on the surgical procedures.  Patients often wonder why these histories are so repetitive.  Hopefully as more centers use an electronic medical record it will be easy for care givers to retrieve the data and not have to repeat the same process.

Prepping the Patient

The nurse will then start an IV or intravenous line for fluids and medications during and after surgery. In most centers, a special antibacterial body wash will be used on the area of the body to be operated.  This is a very common-sense precaution that will decrease the incidence of post-operative infection. Antibiotics given preoperatively may also decrease the incidence of infection, but the timing of this administration is important. Another important precaution used are compression stockings to decrease the formation of blood clots.  It is also likely that injections of anticoagulants such as heparin will be administered in the pre-op area for the same purpose.

Family and Friends

During all this time in the pre-op area it is likely you will have access to your family or significant other.  This can be nice for support and to answer all those questions that might be difficult.  Unfortunately, a great number of friends in your room can be disruptive to the professionals preparing your case.  You want your care team to do their best.  Having too many people in the room can lead to distractions.  You don’t want key preparations forgotten because of these occurrences.  Try to limit the number of your acquaintances in your room if possible.