At the beginning of the shift the theatre nurse is allocated a surgical procedure. It is their responsibility to ensure the theatre is prepared and laid out in the correct manner. This includes damp dusting at the beginning of the day, ensuring the correct instrumentation has been prepared, placing equipment in the correct positions for that procedure, preparing anaesthetic monitoring equipment, intravenous fluids and surgical scrub.
Once theatre is prepared, the nurse organises equipment needed in the induction area. The Veterinary Surgeon anaesthetises the patient, the nurse connects the patient to the monitoring equipment and monitors and records the parameters regularly.
The patient is prepared for surgery. This may include radiography of the area to be operated on. Then the theatre nurse will clip, clean and prepare the appropriate area for surgery in an aseptic manner. The patient is transported through to theatre and positioned correctly for surgery. The surgical field on the patient has a final scrub preparation, carried out by the theatre nurse. The theatre nurse opens the surgical equipment aseptically for the scrubbed surgeon. Monitoring of anaesthesia continues throughout the surgical procedure and regular recording of the patient’s parameters. The nurse administers pain relief and antibiotics during the procedure when necessary as directed by the veterinary surgeon.
Towards the end of surgery the theatre nurse collects all information necessary from the surgeon regarding post operative care and medications needed and ensures these are noted clearly on the hospitalisation sheet. The patient is returned to wards where the theatre nurse passes the case over to the ward nurse who will continue to monitor the patient on recovery.
Maintaining a clean environment in theatre is necessary at all times. This is an important part of the theatre nurse's role and a thorough cleaning protocol is adhered to. Cleaning and packing of surgical equipment and instrumentation is necessary to help the sterile services team.
Each day in theatre is different and the theatre nurse is involved in many interesting cases including Ophthalmology, Spinal surgery, Soft tissue surgery including thoracotomies and laparoscopies and many different Orthopaedic procedures including fractures, TPLO’s and Total Hip Replacements.