Even thought this blog focuses on the ability of the wheelchair-bound man or woman to roll without limits, that does not mean that none of those same individuals could ever be placed on a stretcher and wheeled into an operating room. In light of that possibility, the friends and family members who will be with that surgical patient before and after the operation ought to pay attention to the perioperative environment. That is the setting in which the patient will eat and sleep just before he or she must be wheeled into the operating room.
Failure to pay attention to that setting/environment can lead to unexpected and unwanted consequences, such as the development of an infection, the appearance of hemorrhaging, discomfort caused by a nerve injury, or introduction of other sources of discomfort. An observant visitor can watch for evidence that the care given to a patient prior to surgery has not been adequate. If those who are caring for that patient do not seem capable of communicating with each other, efforts should be taken to ensure the existence of such communications.
Many health-care facilities offer procedures that can be done on an outpatient basis. That sounds inviting, because few people enjoy spending time in the hospital. However the existence of an institutional culture in the environment of someone who is about to undergo surgery can help to cut-back on the chances that there could be future problems.
An example of that fact was demonstrated one summer in a Philadelphia hospital. One patient’s father had arranged for her to spend her pre-surgery time on a floor that strayed quite a bit from the normal institutional time schedule. Breakfast was not served until 9 A.M. Therefore, the staff on that floor was not accustomed to waking a patient at an early hour, as they had to do for that one young lady. Interestingly, she developed a post-surgery infection. It is impossible to say what caused it, but her perioperative care should certainly be considered.
Unfortunately, her post operative care was not the best, because it lacked adequate attention to the appropriate staffing schedules. There was only a single nurse in the ICU unit, and two different patients. Moreover, the nurse who took over at 11 P.M had just finished an eight hour shift on a lower floor. The friends and family who are going to look-after a surgical patient, both before and after that operation, ought to have an eye-out for such risky approaches to patient-care management.
*Image courtesy Flickr creative commons.