Position Overview

Post anesthetic care unit (PACU) nurses are a welcome side for patients emerging from the haze of anesthesia. There are a number of 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 important not just for her role as a guide in the outcome of a 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.

PACU nurses handle a broad range of patients; from babies to adults, they are trained in handling the post operative 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 PACU Nurse

• Manage patients’ admission processes to preoperative department in a hospital

• Assess the status of patients’ health in pre-op and ensure accuracy of 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 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 a surgery has been performed

• Ensure that all vitals are within 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 individual patient’s condition

• Ensure that the all nursing activities are carried out in accordance to individual patient care plan

• Monitor patients for condition changes 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 post operative emergencies

• Record sedation levels and body temperature

• Manage blood and fluid transfusions and draw specimens

• Ensure that the post operative space is clean and sanitized

• Change bandages and dress surgical wounds