Post-Anesthesia Patient Care

Healthcare Training Resource
July 11, 2012 — 1,258 views  
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As a nurse you will likely provide patient care for post-anesthesia patients at one point or another in your career, if not more often. All healthcare professionals, especially nurses, should have a vast knowledge of the most up-to-date information on post-anesthesia care.

According to the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses, a patient may be admitted directly from the operating room to the intensive care unit (ICU), depending on the physician's preference and intraoperative course. For this reason, critical care nurses particularly must be aware of how to provide immediate postoperative care. This includes knowing how to recognize potential complications and programs, as well as knowing the standards of care for post-anesthesia patients and being familiar with anesthetic agents, the source reports.

A nurse should know the effects of the anesthetic agents used most often during operation. Some examples the association states include: decreased cardiac output (from desflurane), tachycardia (from enflurane or isoflurane), hypotension (from enflurane, sevoflurane and desflurane) and decreased systemic vascular resistance (from enflurane or sevoflurane).

The way a patient is cared for post-anesthesia is also dependent on the type of anesthesia he or she received. For instance, patients who received spinal anesthesia must be evaluated for complications including spinal headache, vomiting, hypotension and bradycardia in addition to getting sensory and motor assessments every 15 minutes. Furthermore, assessment data must be collected and recorded to nursing standards. In critical care nursing, the association states vital signs must be recorded every five minutes for 20 minutes and then every 15 minutes as needed.

On the other hand, patients who had general anesthesia will receive humidified oxygen until they are able to maintain an oxygen saturation that is set by the nursing department's standards.

A nurse should always keep a patient's family informed on the details of the recovery period, of course, while maintaining HIPAA guidelines. Approved family members and loved ones can visit with the patient during this period and the nurse should continue to maintain the utmost communication with the patient's family throughout recovery.

The source explains when a patient has met all physiological criteria, he or she may be discharged from care. The criteria required can vary depending on the patient and the attending physician. However, it will likely include level of consciousness, vital signs, oxygen saturation, airway patency and muscle strength.

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