What happens in the Surgical Suite

The surgical suite, also called the operating room is a mysterious and fascinating arena. This is where a patient usually encounters their surgical experience. This is where the surgical care givers wear masks and work behind closed doors. So, would you like to know what happens behind those closed doors? Would you like to know what happens inside the surgical suite? Well let’s talk about the surgical experience.

The Surgical Experience includes:

The Surgical Team.

The surgical team consists of your surgeons, anesthesiologists, operating room nurses and operating room technicians, lab technicians, X ray technicians and other members of the team that are vital in participating in your care.

The role of your surgical team includes:

Being your patient advocate.

Ensuring your safety.

Taking total responsibility of your care during your peri-operative stay in the surgical suite.

Providing the high standards of care that they are trained and qualified to administer.

Answering any questions you may have about your care that they are qualified to give or seeking the appropriate caregiver on the team to do so.

Providing support to you and your family.

One of the most important advocate on your team during your peri-operative care is the registered nurse, also called the circulating nurse, who is assigned to coordinate the activities during your stay in the surgical suite. She works along with the other members of your surgical team in providing the highest standards of care.

Peri-Operative Care

Peri-Operative care consists of three phases.

Pre-Operative: The phase where all the preparation is done prior to your admission to the

operating room suite.

Intra-Operative: This phase includes your admission to the operating room suite, your

identification process, checking your documents, your allergies etc.

Preparation for the surgical procedure and performing your surgical


Post-Operative: This phase includes the conclusion of your stay in the operating suite and your discharge

to the recovery room suite. (PACU)

Here is a scenario of a real life experience in the operating room.!

As a registered nurse with many years of past experience, this was my first time to work the weekend day shift in a large city hospital in South Florida.

The operating room desk area, was quiet for a change. The charge nurse was on a 15 minute break. I sat in a blue swivel back chair at the front desk wearing green pajama like OR scrub shirt and pants. I had blue paper shoe covers on and a blue paper bonnet that covered my hair. I was reviewing the Monday’s operating room schedule.

The round, white faced large numbered, wall clock framed in brown showed 10:05 AM.

It was Saturday. I thought about what I might do on my day off tomorrow.

Suddenly, the red emergency phone on the desk rang. I grabbed it.

“Hello, this is the operating room, Norma speaking . How may I help you?”

The female voice at the other end was sharp, quick and precise. She said,

“there’s a stab-wound-to-the-head victim in the emergency room. The weapon has penetrated the skull. She will be coming to the operating room in 10 minutes for a left craniotomy.”

“Give me name , age and identification number of the patient, please, I will order the blood and an operating room will be ready in ten minutes” I assigned two nurses to prepare for a left craniotomy procedure in OR 4. The anesthesia team was also alerted.

The surgical team proceeded to prepare the instruments on the sterile back table: scalpel, hemostats, scissors, retractors for holding back the tissue and drills and burrs to lift a portion of the skull to enter the brain tissue to remove the dagger.

The X Rays previously taken in the emergency room would be critical in determining the length of the blade and its proximity to the specific brain area.

The anesthesia team checked the anesthesia machine, intubation supplies and prepared the equipment and IV solutions. The blood bank delivered the patients blood.

It seemed like only two minutes had passed when the elevator door opened and three surgeons, an emergency room nurse and an orderly were pushing the stretcher off the elevator. The patient was supine, bloody, pale, wide awake and verbally responsive.

The black wooden 4 inch handle of the dagger stuck up from her long, curly, black hair pasted with blood. She was rushed down the hallway and into the bright lit operating room where the surgical team was ready to attend to her.

I felt weak and dizzy as I returned to the desk. In all my years of nursing I had never seen any thing like that. Someone mumbled, “she was stabbed at a party.” Another person noticed how pale I looked and said, “welcome to a big, busy, city hospital, how about a coffee break.?”

The scenarios are not always like this, there are the routine surgeries that are planned and does not include trauma or drama. Whatever the scenario your surgical team is trained and ready to provide you with the best and highest quality of care during your surgical experience.

Want to Know More About What Happens in The Surgical Suite?

The Association of Operating Room Nurses, (AORN) is celebrating the annual

Peri-operative Nurse Week during November 9 -15, 2008.

This Years Theme is: Peri-Operative Nurses Influencing the Future of Safe Patient Care.

During this week many local hospitals reach out to the community and provide opportunities for them to learn more about the role of the Peri-Operative Nurse.

Some local hospitals will:

Host an Open House wherein an Operating Room is set up and open to the community to visit, observe OR techniques, instruments and machines.

An open house where they do a treasure hunt for kids.

An OR experience writing contest and other such activities.

Check to find out if your local hospital is having a Perioperative Nurse Week event and learn more about what happens in the surgical suite.