The operating room staff
generally consists of nurses, doctors, technicians and support staff as needed. They all form part of the
operating room team. In ‘teaching’ hospitals there might also be nursing students and medical students to learn
and help. Before you enter the operating room many of these people prepare the instruments and drugs required
for your specific surgery. Great care is taken to ensure the cleanliness of the operating room to reduce your
risk of having an infection after your surgery.
Prior to going to ‘sleep’ (or being “anesthetized”) your
surgeon and anesthesiologist may talk with you to confirm details about your medical history or to explain what
you can expect after the surgery is complete. Once inside the operating room the staff will connect you to
machines (called ‘monitors’) to check your blood pressure, heart rate, heart rhythm and make sure you breathe.
These monitors stay connected till the end of the surgery. The safe surgery checklist
Once ‘asleep’ (or sedated if regional anesthesia is the technique of choice) the
operating room staff continue to prepare for your surgery. This may include inserting a catheter to drain urine
and more intravenous lines, cleaning the part of your body that is to be operated on and then covering that part
with sterile drapes or covers. After this the surgeon(s) will don sterile gowns and gloves and begin to
During the operation there is a gowned nurse who assists the surgeon(s) with handling the
various instruments such as scalpels and needles. There is also a second nurse (called the circulating nurse)
who acts as a ‘runner’. Regardless of the length of your operation there will always be nurses and doctors in
your operating room to care for you.
At the end of the surgery the anesthesiologist will wake you up (or
stop the sedation if you were having a regional anesthesia) unless you are told otherwise (i.e. you may be
transferred to an Intensive Care Unit while still asleep). He or she will transport you to a recovery area
(called the recovery room or post anesthesia care unit). Here another team of nurses will care for you until you
are transferred to a ward or to the day surgery unit. Back in the operating room the various staff members clean
up and prepare the room for the next patient.
Dr. Nam Le MD (Resident Anesthetist)Reviewed by:
Dr. Martin van
der Vyver (Specialist Anesthetist) MBChB FRCPCDate created:
October 22, 2010