Jump to content

Reach Out and Touch Your Patient!


I had to "switch gears" when I left floor Nursing for a position in the pre-screening department. But that doesn't have to mean that I've lost my "touch!"

by homenow09 homenow09 (New)

Reach Out and Touch Your Patient!

Getting patients ready for surgery is an important part of the perioperative process. Many patients are not ordered to be cleared by their Primary Care Physicians before their scheduled surgeries. Pre-screening Nurses must screen patients, review their pre-operative lab studies, and EKG results for abnormalities. Any abnormal EKG's or lab results must be reviewed by Anesthesia. Some patients' surgeries must be cancelled if their results require that their PCP's clear them prior to surgery.

Another concern is undiagnosed obstructive sleep apnea. OSA is a common disorder that affects all age groups, and approximately 4% of men and 2% of women in the USA are estimated to have it. And the treatment for it remains an even more alarming concern. Approximately 40 to 60% of patients diagnosed with OSA are non-compliant with using their CPAP and BIPAP machines. It is the Nurse who must teach their patients the importance of wearing their devices to prevent both peri-operative and post-operative complications.

Yes, this what I do now. You might say that I nurse from a distance, but it is just as important as me touching them physically. Teaching is a big part of Nursing. Nurses make a difference in safe outcomes after surgery. It is my responsibility to tell patients what medicines they can safely take prior to surgery and which ones they should avoid. I explain to them how important it is not to eat and drink before surgery and the rationale behind it. Many patients are anxious about anesthesia and whether or not they will be uncomfortable in the immediate post-op period. It is the Nurse who explain the details, reassures their patients, and comforts them only in a way that we know how to do. Nurses are the caregivers, indeed.

I enjoy making a difference in my patient's surgical experience. I know that they look to me for guidance and reassurance. Pre-operative teaching makes for a better and safer post-operative experience. Patients need someone to stay with them 24 hours after their surgeries because of the lingering effects of anesthesia. It is sad when patients tell me that they have no one to stay with them. Sometimes their surgeons are able to have them stay in the hospital over night. And for others, it is more difficult. Nurses are truly their patient's advocates. They must make sure that their patients are optimized prior to surgery, and have a sufficient support system to return to when everything is said and done. There are a lot of rules and regulations to adhere to when getting patient ready for surgery, but we must keep in mind that patients not only need to be safe, but respected and reassured that they will be well taken care of.

Never under estimate the power of reaching out without a physical touch. Knowing that some cares can be comforting in a way you may not imagine. Sometimes when I hang up the phone I feel good about my patient's situation and then there are times when I wish I could say or do something more for them. On any given day we may have 40 to 50 patients we need to get ready for surgery. I like to give my patients my undivided attention they deserve on the other end of the phone and make them feel as though we are in the same room together sitting face to face. Some days I feel rushed to get my work done, but I never like to hurry my patients off the phone. They need that personal touch, knowing that we truly care about them. We know as Nurses that we must care of their physical needs, but the emotional needs are just as important. Yes, when I say that I take care of my patients from a distance, that distance can be as close as the touch of my hand on the other end of my phone's receiver.

I received my RN at Community College of Allegheny County, and my BSN at Duquesne University. I am American Heart Association certified BLS Instructor, and am a member of Sigma Theta Tau, AS PAN, and the ANA.

3 Articles   4 Posts

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

2 Comment(s)


Specializes in Nurse's Aide. Has 6 1/2 years experience.

I really enjoyed reading this article, just because not only is physical touch important for nurse to patient, but focusing on their emotional needs/"touch" is just as important. Patients experience all kinds of emotions and thoughts during their surgery, before and after, too. The nurse who is keeping an eye on these surgical patients is critical in maintaining an overall positive experience.Giving your patients undivided attention is key to having a good outcome when that surgery to finished and they are comforted and taken care of during post-op care.

I'd have loved to have a nurse like that when I had my surgery! The floor nurses were nice but even if I've never been a touchy feely person,I'd have liked more contacts with OR nurses just before the surgery. They basically left me on my own witout any contact till I went into the OR. Even if I wasn't nervous about the surgery itself,I started to get scared because I was alone. They weren't hostile per se but cold.