Once you are awake, you will be taken by stretcher to the recovery room by your Anesthesia Provider. An oxygen catheter will be placed in your nose to prevent any drops in your blood oxygen levels. Here you will be watched by well trained nurses specializing in the post-operative recovery of patients. On arrival, you will be greeted by one or several of the nurses who will quickly attach monitoring devices to ensure your safety. The monitors usually include and EKG, oxygen monitor and a blood pressure cuff.
The nurses will carefully look at your dressings and verify there is not much seepage of blood. This is important especially if you have had thoracic or abdominal surgery. If there is excessive bleeding the surgeon would want to know. Occasionally a stitch may not work so well and this will result in bleeding that requires a return to the operating room.
The nurses will monitor your breathing very carefully as this is one of the major concerns in the post-operative period. On occasion a patient still under the influence of the anesthetic and other medications may become unarousable to the point they will not breathe. The nurses will immediately act and support their breathing with a chin lift and/or ambu-bag. The ambu-bag is a mask with a large stiff rubber bag they use to ventilate the patient temporarily in emergency circumstances. Most of the time a brief spell with the ambu-bag is sufficient and the patient can be stabilized.
Another occurrence seen in the recovery room is the occasional cardiac arrhythmia. The most common are extra beats from parts of the heart called atria or ventricle. Sometimes a fast rhythm originating from the atrium (atrial tachycardia) may develop which may require some intervention from the anesthesiologist or a cardiologist. They most feared arrhythmias are ventricular fibrillation or ventricular tachycardia which can be life threatening. In these circumstances, the nurses and doctors act quickly to bring these under control with defibrillators, medications and assisted breathing. The recovery room can be one of the busiest areas in a hospital and requires a very skilled staff to make things work safely. These are some of the best trained people in any hospital