Care after administration of anesthesia can be just as important as the care given while the patient is under anesthesia.
Effects of Anesthesia on the Body
General anesthesia suppresses many of your body's automatic functions, such as breathing, heartbeat, circulation of the blood, normal digestive functions, and throat reflexes such as swallowing, or gagging. The throat and gag reflexes prevent foreign material from being inhaled into your lungs (aspiration). Because these functions are suppressed, healthcare providers must carefully watch a patient’s heart, breathing, blood pressure, and other vital functions.
Additionally, anesthesia impacts cognitive function. Patients describe the effects of anesthesia as feeling as though they’re in a cloud, or fuzzy-headed. Regardless, the effects of anesthesia can leave you not thinking straight.
Operations require different degrees of pain medication, and it’s very common for patients to require some prescription narcotic pain medications after surgery. Because narcotic pain medications can affect you much the same way that alcohol does, patients may remain impaired for some time after surgery. As a result, balance and lightheadedness may be an issue for patients following surgery. Every year, somewhere between 700,000 and 1,000,000 people in the U.S. experience a fall in a hospital.
Proper Care after Anesthesia is a Must
To properly care for patients of all ages who have just received general anesthesia, regional anesthesia, or moderate or deep sedation, healthcare providers should:
- Assess a patient regularly, including:
- Respiratory function assessment
- Respiratory rate
- Oxygen saturation (SpO2)
- Airway patency
- Cardiovascular function assessment
- Blood pressure
- Pulse rate
- Neuromuscular function assessment through physical examination
- Mental status assessment
- Temperature assessment
- Pain assessment
- Nausea and vomiting assessment
- Monitor, a patient, continuously until they are ready for discharge
- Optimize patient safety.
- Be ready to intervene if necessary.
- Treat nausea and vomiting
- Supplement oxygen for patients at risk of hypoxemia
- Normalize a patient’s temperature
- Have reversing agents ready
- Have a protocol ready for discharge that assures the safety of the patient including a safe ride home and care after discharge.
Without the proper care and monitoring, patients can suffer falls resulting in broken bones and even paralysis. Additionally, patients may suffer cardiac arrest or respiratory failure. Given the serious side effects of anesthesia and pain management, post-anesthetic care is crucial.