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Surgical Care Journey

The surgical care journey has three main steps. Click on one of them below to learn more. Note: this is the typical surgical care journey; other patients may enter from Emergency or the Intensive Care Unit.

Pre-Operative Post-Operative

1 Pre-Operative (Before Surgery)

Preparation for surgery begins when the decision to proceed with surgery is made with the surgeon and the patient. All patients are required to have a pre-operative assessment with a registered nurse to discuss their medical history. Anesthesia and medical consultations will be arranged at that time if needed. This appointment will be arranged through the surgeon’s office.

a. Surgical Assessment Clinic (SAC)

All surgical patients are assessed by a Surgical Care Co-ordinator/nurse in the SAC prior to their surgery to complete all paperwork, diagnostic tests, and for final clearance for surgery by anaesthesia or medicine as required. The surgeon's office will schedule this appointment for you.

Inform your surgeon’s secretary if you require special assistance or have special language requirements. It is recommended you bring an interpreter with you to this appointment if needed.

If you live far from the hospital or do not require any pre-operative tests, a telephone interview can be arranged for you by your surgeon’s office as appropriate.

You must bring a completed Anaesthesia Patient Questionnaire to this appointment. This must be completed by your family physician or surgeon.

Your surgeon’s office will advise you if you need to see your family physician prior to your surgery to complete an updated History and Physical.

b. Patient Registration

On the day of your surgery you, along with a family member, will come to the patient registration area to check in. You will present your health card and answers simple questions such as “do you have any allergies?”. You will receive an armband that contains all your identifying information. This will be reviewed by many members of the health team prior to any treatment being performed.

c. Surgical Day Care Unit (SDCU)

You will then proceed to the SDCU with a hospital volunteer. You must wear hospital approved clothing to the operating room. All jewellery must be removed and personal clothing/valuables will be secured in a locker.  The SDCU nurse will review your vital signs and reconfirm that you are ready for the surgery. The nurse will also confirm that you have not had anything to eat or drink before the surgery, as previously instructed. The DSU nurse will help to alleviate any fears or anxieties you may have and will answer any questions. Depending on the type of surgery, patients may have an intravenous (IV) started or be given pre-operative pain medication.

 2 The Operation

a. Operating Room (OR) Holding Area

You will be taken to the OR holding area to be met by your surgical team. The surgeon, nurse and anaesthesiologist will do a final recheck of your paperwork, and may ask many of the same questions that the SDCU nurse has asked.  Once the OR is prepared, the OR nurse will take the patient into the OR suite, where you will be introduced to any OR members that you have not yet met.   

b. The Operating Room (OR)

In the OR you will notice many different pieces of equipment.  A nurse will be close by at all times to answer any questions, and will apply special monitors to observe blood pressure, heart rate and oxygen levels.  After the monitors are applied, an intravenous (IV) is inserted to ensure you have fluids during the procedure.  Medication for pain can also be given through the IV line as required.  Normally you will have an oxygen mask or tubing placed over your nose and/or mouth to ensure that their breathing is maximized.  Once the anaesthesiologist is satisfied with your vital signs, they will administer medication to put you to sleep.  You will be constantly monitored during your surgery by the anesthesiologist.

OR Picture

The OR team will be totally covered with special uniforms and head coverings to reduce the spread of bacteria, leaving only their eyes exposed.

c. The Surgical Safety Checklist

The Surgical Safety Checklist is completed by the OR team before, during, and after a surgical procedure; a requirement of the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care. You may hear the OR team confirming information from the Surgical Safety Checklist during the surgery. You may wonder why you are asked the same questions by different OR team members, but this allows the team to complete the Surgical Safety Checklist and provide safe care. Click here to learn more about the Surgical Safety Checklist.

3  Post-Operative (After Surgery)

a. Post Anaesthesia Care Unit (PACU)

After your surgery you may be taken to the recovery room, also known as the post anaesthetic care unit. Here you will wake up slowly after your procedure while being cared for and monitored by critical care trained and experienced nurses.  They will look at your incision site and dressing and make sure you are as comfortable as possible.

The paediatric patients are supported by our child life specialist with an ongoing focus of parental involvement in the post-operative period.

b. Surgical Day Care Unit

Once you are awake enough, you will be transported back to the day surgery area if you are going home the same day.  You will be monitored for approximately 30 minutes to one hour here until you meet the discharge criteria for going home. Your family members will be allowed to stay with you during this time. When you are discharged home after surgery you will receive appropriate education materials, discharge instruction information for your surgical wound, have a follow-up appointment given and a prescription for pain medication.

c. Inpatient Unit

If the surgical procedure performed requires you to stay in the hospital longer than a day you will be transported to an inpatient unit. Click here to learn more about surgical inpatient units.