Responsibilities of an Orthopedic Post-Op Nurse

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Orthopedic post-op nurses are surgical nurses, and are responsible to varying degrees for identifying and managing post-operative comfort, side-effects and conditions, as well as a variety of administrative functions relating to patient recovery. Certified orthopedic nurses of any function must often complete a significant amount of continued education, as well as a certification exam, to achieve the distinction on top of their general nursing qualifications.

Moving the Patient to Recovery

  • One of the most common responsibilities of an orthopedic post-operative nurse is to prevent or reduce the likelihood of post-operative complications when the patient is being moved into recovery, and making sure no strain is put on a patient during the transition. This frequently involves physically moving patients from surgery to recovery rooms, and transferring patients from gurneys to recovery beds.

Pain Management

  • Orthopedic post-op nurses also manage and treat post-operative pain which crops up in patients. This may involve recommending topical anesthesia, oral medications, intravenous painkillers or other pain-controlling treatments and techniques. Pain is often accompanied by other symptoms which may indicate secondary conditions, which include fever, nausea, constipation, diarrhea, swelling, shortness of breath or discharge from the surgery site.

Emergency Care

  • Post-operative nurses are trained to recognize the signs of emergency conditions in patients, such as shock and low oxygen, and are expected to swiftly effectively manage any emergency situations. In some cases, nurses may need to alert other hospital staff for assistance with emergency conditions.

Other Responsibilities

  • In addition to monitoring and documenting a patient's condition and vital signs while they are in post-operative care, orthopedic post-operative nurses are required to complete a patient's discharge paperwork and on occasion also to distribute other paperwork and information to patients both during their recovery and discharge.

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