How to provide preoperative care to patients
Intended for healthcare professionals
how to series    

How to provide preoperative care to patients

Jacqueline Johnstone Lecturer, education, Glasgow Caledonian University, Glasgow, Scotland

Why you should read this article:
  • To understand the physical and psychosocial care required to prepare patients for surgery

  • To familiarise yourself with the various preoperative tests and clinical assessments that may be required

  • To improve your understanding of the preoperative information that should be communicated to patients, family members and/or carers

Preoperative care refers to the physical and psychosocial care that prepares a patient to undergo surgery safely. The preoperative period begins when the patient is booked for surgery and ends with their transfer to the theatre or surgical suite. As well as the preoperative care that takes place in hospital, various preoperative tests and clinical assessments can be undertaken during a preoperative outpatient appointment, one week or more before surgery takes place. Patient information will also be provided at this time. These outpatient appointments are often led by nurse specialists or advanced nurse practitioners and may involve remote consultations via telephone or email. All nurses involved in the care of patients undergoing surgery should:

• Have a clear understanding of their role in each of the operative phases – preoperative, intraoperative and post-operative.

• Be able to identify the essential elements of preoperative care required to ensure patient safety.

• Understand the indications for, and effects of, any preoperative medicines.

• Provide preoperative information to the patient, family members and carers at a level appropriate to their cognitive and language abilities.

• Ensure the patient understands any preoperative tests and procedures required.

Reflective activity

‘How to’ articles can help to update your practice and ensure it remains evidence based. Apply this article to your practice. Reflect on and write a short account of:

• How this article can improve your practice when supporting patients who are undergoing preoperative care.

• How you could use this article to educate your colleagues on the principles of preoperative care.

Nursing Standard. doi: 10.7748/ns.2020.e11657

Peer review

This article has been subject to external double-blind peer review and checked for plagiarism using automated software



Conflict of interest

None declared

Johnstone J (2020) How to provide preoperative care to patients. Nursing Standard. doi: 10.7748/ns.2020.e11657

Disclaimer Please note that information provided by Nursing Standard is not sufficient to make the reader competent to perform the task. All clinical skills should be formally assessed according to local policy and procedures. It is the nurse’s responsibility to ensure their practice remains up to date and reflects the latest evidence

Published online: 30 November 2020

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