12 Care for the surgical
Many of the people in hospital are there for surgery. People need
surgery for many reasons: to find the reason for a problem, to help
reduce that problem, or to mend, replace or take out tissue or
organs. Surgery may also be carried out as an emergency, to save
the patient's life.
Preparing the patient for surgery
Before surgery, the doctor asks for tests and examinations of the
patient. These give information on the problem requiring surgery.
They also tell the doctor about the patient’s health and the risks of
surgery. The nurse plays a major role in getting the patient ready for
• The nurse checks the patient’s health.
• The nurse makes sure that all investigations are carried
• The nurse explains to the patient what will happen before
surgery and what he or she will feel after the surgery.
• The nurse physically prepares the patient for the
• The nurse shows the patient what to do to help with
recovery after surgery.
Nursing care of the sick
Surgery disrupts a patient's life. It brings anxiety and fear, pain and
discomfort. By giving the patient information and reassurance, you
can calm those fears and prepare his or her mind for the
experience. A well prepared patient will find the experience of
surgery much easier.
If the patient goes into hospital before the operation,
explain as soon as the patient arrives what tests will be
done and why they must be done.
• The day before the surgery, explain to the patient how to
prepare. For example, a patient may have an enema
before bowel surgery.
• Explain that the patient must not eat or drink for 8-12
hours before the surgery. This is because under
anaesthesia the patient might vomit and choke.
• Ask the patient to bathe in the morning, remove all
jewellery, makeup, eyeglasses, dentures, etc., before
going to the operating room.
If the patient has family members there, tell them where
they will be