Post-Op Nurse Job Description


Nearly every hospital that performs surgeries has a room or ward set aside to monitor patients immediately following surgery. This area is stationed close to the surgery area so nurses and doctors are close by if they are needed. Stationing these patients in close quarters allows one nurse to concentrate closely on two or three patients at one time.

Transferring a Patient to Post-Op Recovery

  • When a patient is transferred to post-op, it is imperative that no strain is put on the patient. Post-op recovery nurses will help transfer the patient to a recovery bed; this entails lifting the patient and moving him or her to the recovery bed without further injury. The anesthesiologist will usually visit the patient right after the transfer to assure that the patient is in satisfactory condition.

The Post-Op Nurse's Role

  • Once the patient is satisfactorily transferred to the post-op unit, it becomes the nurse's responsibility to monitor that patient's condition closely and to report anything out of the ordinary to the physician or anesthesiologist. The nurse monitors the patient closely for signs of shock, hemorrhage, inadequate oxygenation and hypothermia. The blood pressure, heart rate, oxygen saturation and breathing patterns will be closely monitored; it is the nurse's responsibility to carefully document each vital sign in the patient's record.

Emergency Care

  • Post-op units should be well stocked with any equipment that may be needed in case of an emergency. Post-op nurses are trained to recognize the signs of shock and hypoxia (low oxygen) and should be competent in using any and all equipment needed to maintain the patient's life. Post-op nurses should be able to follow the physician's orders exactly as they are written in the patient's chart and are responsible for reporting any problems for which additional orders may be needed.

Pain Control

  • As soon as a surgery patient begins to regain consciousness, he or she may begin feeling the discomforts associated with the surgery. It is the post-op nurse's role to assess the extent of pain and administer pain medications according to the doctor's or hospital's orders. Another role of the post-op nurse is to carefully and accurately note any and all medications given to the patient during the post-op period and to monitor the patient for any side effects to those medications.

Transferring a Patient from Post-Op to a Patient Room

  • The post-op nurse is responsible for seeing that any orders for a specific patient are transferred to the unit secretary of whatever unit the patient is transferred to after surgery. The nurse is also responsible for seeing that all equipment that is to be transferred with the patient is done so according to the physician's orders. Once the patient is moved out of the post-op unit, the nurse is responsible for charting the patient's condition at the time of transfer and anything else that may be pertinent to the transfer of that patient.


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