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Surgical nurses make an important part of the general healthcare team in providing patient care before, during, and after a surgical procedure. Also called perioperative nurses, they are trained in many things to help surgeons and other surgical team members ensure a smooth surgery. Below are two main benefits of working with skilled nurses during the three phases of post-anesthesia care.

1. Prevent Development of Complications

Several complications can occur after surgery, depending on the nature of the surgical procedure. Nonetheless, below are the common postoperative complications and how skilled nursing can prevent patients from developing these complications

  • Respiratory Complications

Assessing the respiratory status is important for patients recovering from anesthesia. Surgical nurses can evaluate this using various respiratory status indicators, including arterial blood gases and pulse oximetry. Skilled surgical nurses know how to identify signs of respiratory complications, such as hypoventilation, aspiration, hypoxemia, laryngospasm, and airway obstruction.

Obstruction of the airway is the most common and severe post-anesthesia respiratory complication. Common causes of this complication include unconscious positioning of the tongue at the posterior pharynx, changes in laryngeal and pharyngeal muscle tone, edema, and collection of secretions in the pharynx.

Regardless of the presenting respiratory complication, proper nursing care is required to keep patients experiencing this condition out of danger.

  • Cardiovascular Complications

Skilled surgical nurses also help maintain proper circulation and assess for possible cardiac complications, especially for patients recovering from back surgery. Hypertension, hypotension, and cardiac dysrhythmias are common cardiovascular complications that occur as side effects of anesthetic drugs on the central nervous system.

Skilled postoperative nurses actively monitor and attend to recovering patients with signs of these complications.

  • Complications of Thermoregulation

Normal body temperature regulation is often disrupted by anesthesia, medication, and stress of undergoing surgery. Most patients suffer from hypothermia or low body temperatures, which can lead to delayed recovery and wound healing. Shivering also increases the body’s oxygen demands by up to 400%, leading to increased myocardial workload and metabolic rate, which can worsen the patients’ condition.

Recovering patients may also experience hyperthermia, a situation where temperatures rise above 102.2F. Hyperthermia could be a sign of infection or sepsis. Proper nursing intervention helps the patient achieve thermoregulation independence.

  • Neurological Complications

Skilled nurses can easily assess neurological functions by evaluating the patients’ response to stimuli, pupillary reaction to light, the strength of the handgrip, and the ability to move extremities. Based on their assessments, nurses grade the patients’ neurological status or level of consciousness using the AVPU or Glasgow Coma Scale.

The AVPU scale evaluates the patients’ response to voice and pain. As such, the patient can either be responsive, partially responsive, or unresponsive. On the other hand, the Glasgow Coma Scale objectively records the patients’ state of consciousness using eye, verbal, and motor responses. A score of 15 indicates that the patient is fully awake, while a score of 3 indicates that the patient is either in a deep coma or dead.

2. Speed Up Recovery Process

Nursing interventions after the surgery focuses on improving patient recovery and returning the patient to normal health status. Skilled nurses speed up patient recovery in the following ways;

  • Pain assessment and alleviation. Nurses provide painkillers and other pain remediation alternatives to patients in pain after surgery.
  • Providing physical therapy to patients recovering from knee replacement surgery. This promotes faster healing and enables patients to return to their normal activities sooner.
  • Dressing the surgical site to promote healing and prevent bacterial infections.
  • Encouraging proper positioning and ambulation of hip surgery patients. This eliminates the chances of developing complications after this fragile surgical procedure.
  • Providing occupational therapy especially for accident patients.
  • Monitoring the patients’ input and output to evaluate the functionality of various body organs.
  • Monitoring sensation and circulation in extremities after vascular or orthopedic surgery to promote healing after surgery.

If you or a loved one needs help after having surgery contact The Arbors in Amarillo, TX, and our highly skilled nursing staff will take care of you every step of the way.