PACU Nurse Job Description, Duties and Responsibilities

Updated: October 29, 2020
PACU Nurse Job Description

Postanesthetic care unit (PACU) nurses are a welcome side for patients emerging from the haze of anesthesia.

There are many tasks a PACU nurse needs to perform in a post-operative unit such as guiding patients to consciousness and assisting them in handling personal needs in the first few hours after surgery.

A PACU nurse is essential not just for her role as a guide to the outcome of surgery, but also for handling medication administration duties which are very important at this stage.

Even though most patients do not remember the PACU nurse that attended to their needs, they play an imperative role in helping patients start on the road to recovery.

They handle a broad range of patients; from babies to adults, they are trained in handling the postoperative needs of all. There is quite a similarity between the duties that PACU and ICU nurses perform, the only variation being the fact that ICU nurses use mechanical ventilation. PACU nurses, on the other hand, manage respiratory instability and cardiac monitoring activities.

Some more duties on a post-anesthetic care unit nurse include:

Pre-operative Duties of a PACU Nurse

  • Manage patients’ admission processes to the preoperative department in a hospital
  • Assess the status of patients’ health in pre-op and ensure the accuracy of the identification wristband
  • Ensure that operative and informed consents are in order
  • Determine the surgeon and procedure being carried out
  • Take and record vital statistics of patients to ensure readiness for a surgical procedure
  • Initiate IVs and ensure that patients are informed about the procedure and attending medical staff

Post-operative Duties of PACU Nurse

  • Assess patients’ condition after surgery has been performed
  • Ensure that all vitals are within the normal range
  • Log all findings in patients’ files
  • Answer patients’ questions and ensure that they are kept comfortable
  • Make sure that all relevant IVs are in check
  • Develop individualized care plans based on each patient’s condition
  • Ensure that all nursing activities are carried out following the individual patient care plan
  • Monitor patients for condition change and report any changes to the doctor
  • Initiate patient education programs to ensure that both patients and families are educated on procedures and medications
  • Determine when patients are ready to be moved to their rooms
  • Perform intervention duties in cases of postoperative emergencies
  • Record sedation levels and body temperature
  • Manage blood and fluid transfusions and draw specimens
  • Ensure that the postoperative space is clean and sanitized
  • Change bandages and dress surgical wounds