St. Joseph's General Hospital Health Care with Compassion  
Patient Floors

Patient Care - Surgery

For most people, the operating rooms are the scene of much more activity than they ever see. Most of the action takes place when they're asleep, under anaesthetic.

The process begins when patients are wheeled through the big, green, restricted-access doors on the First Floor. In the holding area, a nurse goes through a checklist of questions with the patient about allergies, any recent eating or drinking, if he/she understands the pending surgery to be done, and so on.

Surgery TableA few minutes later, the patient is wheeled to one of the three operating theaters and transferred to the operating table (bed). It's narrow, so the surgeon can easily reach his/her work, and has a safety strap that goes over the patient's knees, holding him/her steady. Next, nurses will put sponges under the elbows, a heart monitor (ECG) on the chest, a blood-pressure cuff on the arm, and a pulse monitor on the finger.

The anaesthetist (a physician who specializes in giving anaesthesia) interviews the patient regarding present health, medications, allergies and previous anaesthesia. This information will assist him\her in determining the most suitable anaesthesia for the operation. For almost everyone, sleep comes easily with the anaesthetic. After what seems the wink of an eye, patients gradually wake up in the post-anaesthetic room, with the assistance of specially trained nurses.

In some cases, doctors choose to keep the patient awake, using a spinal block (epidural) or local anaesthetic. If appropriate, such patients can have music played, for relaxation, through the headphones of an operating room cassette.

Youngsters facing anaesthetic can bring along a favorite toy or blanket for comfort. With the approval of the anaesthetist and surgeon, a parent may be present in the operating theatre to reassure a child being put to sleep. Parents can also make needle pricks less painful for children by applying a numbing cream (available from drug stores).

For pain management, staff can administer pain medication, or a patient-controlled 'push button' analgesia is available, providing a carefully calculated dosage. Other comfort (or pain relief) can come from application of hot or cold, relaxation techniques (such as deep breathing exercises), and/or distraction (music, massage, etc.)

All patients anticipating surgery should have had a cleansing bath, remove nail polish and all make-up. This helps operating room staff who closely monitor the color of face and fingernails, while watching for circulation problems.

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