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Post Anesthetic Care Unit Registered Nurses are a welcome sight for patients waking up from the haze of anesthesia after a procedure or surgery. The PACU RN must perform many tasks in the post operative unit including guiding patients back to consciousness and helping them in handling their personal needs in the first hours after emerging from anesthesia. The PACU RN is important not just for her role as a guide in the outcome of surgery, but also for handling medication administration duties which are extremely important at this stage. Most patients do not remember the Post Anesthetic Care Unit nurses that care for them but they play a very important role in starting patients on the road to recovery. A big part of the job of the PACU RN is to provide emotional support and information to patients. Surgery and anesthesia are often traumatic events in the patient’s life and waking up from anesthesia can be confusing and sometimes scary. It is the job of the PACU RN to calm the patient, explain their surroundings and what has happened to them. Once the patient is awake they are usually sent home or to their room right away. This normally takes place within an hour of arriving in the PACU. The RN will decide when the patient can be sent home based on observation of the patient, whether they can hold down fluids and whether any post surgical complications have developed. Management of the pain will also account for a large part of the job in the PACU. Surgical patients normally must deal with a lot of pain when they wake up and medications must be property administered quickly in order to try and keep the patient as comfortable as possible. Some patients may vomit after they wake up from surgery and they will need help with this as well.

PACU RN’s provide care for everyone from babies to adults and are trained in handling post operative needs of all patients.

Duties of the PACU RN Pre-operatively

  • Manage patients’ admission to the department
  • Assess and status of the patient’s health and ensure the accuracy of wristband ID
  • Ensure the operative and informed consent paperwork is in order
  • Determine the surgeon and procedure the patient is there to receive
  • Record vital statistics of the patient to ensure they are ready for a surgical procedure
  • Ensure that the patient is informed about the procedure and initiate IV’s.
  • Duties of the PACU RN Post-operatively
  • Observe and assess the patient’s condition after the surgery
  • Observe and monitor all vitals and ensure they are within normal ranges
  • Accurately record all observations and findings in patient records
  • Check all relevant IV’s
  • Develop patient care plan based on the individual patient’s condition
  • Ensure that all nursing activities are carried out in accordance with patient care plan
  • Observe and monitor patients for changes in condition and report any changes to the physician.
  • Educate both the patient and their families about the procedures and medications
  • Determine when patient is ready to be moved from the PACU
  • In the case of post-operative emergencies the RN will perform intervention duties
  • Record body temperature and sedation levels
  • Manage fluid and blood transfusions and draw specimens as required
  • Ensure that the post operative space is sanitized and clean
  • Dress surgical wounds and change bandages as necessary

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