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How to make your Office-Based Surgery Patients Safer

Career News August 20, 2013

According to a bulletin put out by the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, approximately 1.2 million people are choosing to have an office based surgery each year, and this number has been steadily increasing. Typically, these procedures are safe, especially when they are performed by experienced doctors, who are aided by skilled nurses.

Unfortunately, in most states, office based surgeries are not as regulated as those that are done in hospitals. It is, therefore, important that physicians and nurses who are doing office based surgeries take the precautions necessary on their own to ensure the safety and health of their patients. Following are just some of the steps that should be taken when surgeries are performed in an office.


Since there is a risk that a patient could suffer respiratory difficulties or cardiac arrest while under anesthesia, doctors should use only licensed and qualified individuals to administer these drugs. This individual should always be present during the office based surgery and remain afterwards until the patient has completely recovered from being put under anesthesia.

In addition, every office in which a surgery is performed should be well equipped with resuscitative equipment, as well as supplemental oxygen in the unfortunate event of an emergency.

Proper Hygiene and Facility Cleanliness

To prevent possible infections, all doctors and nurses must use good hygiene practices, such as frequent washing of hands. In addition, operating theaters and instruments should be kept immaculate and as sterile as possible.

Preventing Mistakes during Surgery

Before the patient undergoes surgery, the medical staff needs to verify numerous times the type of surgery that is being performed and part of the body that will be operated on. Where applicable, the side of the body that the procedure will be performed on should also be double checked. Again, where applicable, the nurse or a doctor should then mark the area with a black Sharpie.

In addition, the patient should always be wearing a wristband with his or her name on it. Doctors and nurses should also verify the name of the patient numerous times during pre-op procedures, as well. The patient’s date of birth should also be confirmed to make sure that there aren’t coincidentally two patients with the same name having procedures performed at the facility.

Emergency Plans

Any facility that performs office based surgeries must have an emergency transfer plan in place that details exactly what steps should be taken in case of complications during a procedure. In addition, all nurses, doctors and staff members must be trained in implementing it. This plan should include what hospital should be contacted and, if necessary, what personnel should accompany the patient as he or she is being transferred.

In addition, at least one nurse or doctor who is qualified in resuscitation should be on site whenever a patient that has undergone a procedure is still in the office. Not having properly trained staff members on site can have tragic consequences. For instance, an article on O’s website described how a 53-year-old patient died after having cosmetic surgery. The patient went into respiratory arrest and, unfortunately, office personnel accidentally inserted the breathing tube into her esophagus instead of her windpipe.

Post-operative Care

A nurse should be assigned to monitor all post-operation patients until they are ready to go home.

Instructions for Going Home

All patients who have been put under anesthesia need to have someone available to take them home. They cannot be allowed to drive home, and the patient should be escorted to the car by an office staff member.

Every patient should be given post-operative care instructions as they leave the office. These instructions should include the names and dosages of any medication that the patient should take and also what post-surgery trouble signs the patient should look out for. They should also be provided with phone numbers that they can call in the event they have any questions while at home or if their pain should suddenly increase. They should also be advised to go to the emergency room if their condition should suddenly worsen.

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