Operating Room Nurse Duties and Responsibilities

Updated April 3, 2022
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Nursing is a broad profession that encompasses many individuals working in different capacities. Some may work in emergency rooms while others are experts in the operating room.

While working as a nurse requires an individual to perform many duties that are part of the overall job description of a registered nurse, there are some specialties for those working in operating rooms.

There are three settings that an operating room nurse needs to work in; preoperative, intra-operative, and postoperative phases of patients’ surgical experiences.

It means that they are required to provide continuity of care before, during, and after an operating procedure which makes their work extremely important.

Operating room nurses provide care in an operating room environment by using a series of scientific and behavioral practices to meet the overall needs of patients under their supervision.

Many of the duties that an operating room nurse performs are “regular” in nature; these include taking vitals, assessing immediate care plans, and ensuring that patients are comfortable.

Related: Operating Room Nurse Resume

Particular duties of an operating room nurse include:

Operating Room Nurse Duties and Responsibilities

Preoperative Duties of an Operating Room Nurse
  • Assess patients in need of surgery for skin color and body temperature
  • Determine patients’ respiratory status and ensure that any related issues are documented appropriately
  • Review conditions that may affect surgical statuses such as diabetes and hypertension
  • Make note of medication that patients have ingested before a surgical process
  • Verify patients’ names and other credentials and match them with surgical orders
  • Engage in conversation with patients to determine their fears and attempt to put them at ease
  • Answer patients’ questions and ensure that they have been run through the surgical procedure in theory
  • Prepare operating units by ensuring instruments and supplies are clean and available
  • Set up surgical beds and supplies
  • Develop an intra-operative nursing care plan based on preoperative assessments
Intra-operative Duties of an Operating Room Nurse
  • Confirm that the intra-operative nursing plan is constantly in sync with prior assessments
  • Anticipate the surgeon’s needs for instruments, sponges, and suture tubes and make them available immediately
  • Observe patients during surgical procedures and communicate any critical observations to the surgical team
  • Manage instruments and supplies contaminated during surgery and make sure that they are removed for sanitizing or disposing of
  • Assist in placing patients in positions to assure operative access
  • Adjust operating tables and equipment to meet the needs of the surgical team
Postoperative Duties of an Operating Room Nurse
  • Assist in applying closing surgical wounds and applying dressings
  • Ensure that patients are comfortably placed or moved on mobile beds
  • Take postoperative care instructions from the surgical team
  • Physically transport patients to recovery rooms
  • Direct the activities of the cleaning staff by ensuring that all surfaces in the operating room have been cleaned and sterilized effectively
  • Re-sterilize and put away any unused supplies for the purpose of reuse
  • Dispose of soiled linen after each surgical procedure


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