What Happens During Surgery – The Scrub Nurse behind the Facemask

You know you’re the scrub nurse when you worry about the simple things in the OR such as checking the operating room light (ceiling type 5 bulbs OR light) You know you’re the scrub nurse when you worry about the simple things in the OR such as checking the operating room light (ceiling type 5 bulbs OR light) or the cautery machines, suction machines and more. But for others who don’t know much about the surgical procedure, it can be an anxiety triggering moment.

Preparation for Surgery

Most of the time, there needs to be special preparation before a surgical operation.  There are special moments of what we call “direct to OR” but most of the time, elective surgeries and even some emergency surgeries require some preparation. Here are the steps so that you can familiarize yourself.

Pre-operative Phase

This includes pre-admission where you have a check up with a specialist for a scheduled surgery, to admission time where you need to be prepared depending on the procedure.

Nothing happens much with the pre-operative phase. The nurse on duty assigned to you however will need to prepare the materials and supplies needed if not provided by the OR and to prepare you for surgery which can be any of the following if not all.

  • Fasting (usually done 6 to 8 hours before surgery especially for areas near the bowels)
  • Bowel preparation (lactulose, fleet enema and fasting 1 to 2 days before surgery)
  • Administration of pre-op meds (Usually Ranitidine, Metoclopramide, Omeprazole or Ondansetron)
  • Catheterization (Especially for explore laparotomies and very long procedures)
  • Shaving (If you’re particularly hairy or the areas to be operated on has hair such as the scalp)
  • Gown change (hospital gown, diaper and OR cap)
  • Removal of nail polish (for the pulse oximeter to be attached to your fingertips)

On to the next phase of surgery.

Intra-Operative Phase

Once you’re wheeled into the OR lobby, the intra-operative phase starts. You’ll find the OR nurses decked with OR caps, wearing one of the facemask carbon earloop, 50’s and in scrub suits. You’ll be wheeled in further into the operating room. By this time, your family members cannot accompany you so don’t be scared.

One of the fears most patients have is what if something goes wrong. Your nurses and doctors are there to ensure nothing happens. Even the nurses will change a faulty light with an operating room light (ceiling type 12+5 bulb OR light) or replace any equipment that’s not working such as the suction machine.

The following can occur inside the operating room.

  • Introduction – Includes sign/time in and sign/time out to ensure the proper identification of the patient, the procedure performed, and the correct team is present.
  • Induction Phase – The time when the anesthesiologist will start the anesthetic.
  • Skin preparation – The area will be prepped aseptically which includes draping of the area
  • Surgical procedure – The actual procedure starting with the first incision and ending with the closing of the incision site.
  • After care – Securing the surgical site with dressing or gauzes to wheeling the patient to the PACU (post anesthesia care unit).

Post-Operative Phase

During this phase, you will be monitored closely in the PACU until the effects of the anesthesia wears off. Depending on the institution, they will follow an Aldrete’s score or a GCS scale.

Nurses will take care of you all throughout the phases of surgery and even beyond that while you’re in the hospital and even outpatient during your rehabilitation phase and physical therapy. If you need to buy your own surgical supplies for the procedure as with some public hospitals, you can check out Philippine Medical Supplies, they can deliver your healthcare supplies right to your doorstep, so everything will be prepared for your surgical procedure.