When it comes to having surgery, many people will think mostly about the operation itself more than the postoperative recovery period. As a nursing professional, you will know that this is actually only half the battle! The surgery itself can be the easier part, as it is done in a very controlled environment and within a set timescale.

Postoperative recovery on the other hand is not so simple. There can be a whole range of issues that crop up for your patients, which can cause them discomfort or even result in the surgery being a failure. With this in mind, it is vital to find ways to care for your patients in a way that makes any post-op period a success.

This is an area within nursing that has seen many changes over the years in how it is approached. This has affected not just the patients themselves, but also you as the nursing staff who look after them.

What exactly has changed in postoperative care?
  • Rehab has become more essential – for your patients, the essential role that rehab plays in recovery from surgery has grown over the years. The importance of not only accessing the right kind of rehab but also taking advantage of it is very important to your patients. This has been made easier over the years, as more hospitals make rehab exercises and sessions open for your patients to engage with. This will not only get them moving around but also give them specific exercises to help recover faster.
  • Diet is key – healthy eating has seen a much-improved profile in recent years and this has also been seen in postoperative recovery. For patients, it is key that they remember to eat the right foods and follow a diet rich in the right minerals to help their body heal. Of course, this has also affected hospitals, where healthy food is now expected to be served to patients.
  • Education – when it comes to changes in how nursing care is done post-op, patient education is a key factor. Now, more than ever, you would talk to the patient after the op to inform them of what they can do to help speed up their recovery. This not only allows you to provide a better level of care for them, but also helps make the surgery an overall success.
  • Increased postoperative pain awareness – when it comes to being a nurse, one of the big challenges that you will face is helping the patient to deal with any post-surgery pain. There have been many advances in this area, from closer monitoring of post-op patients’ pain levels to finding alternative ways of helping patients to manage pain.
  • Advice around too much sun for patients – while you will be aware that some vitamin D and fresh air is good for recovery, it has been found that too much sun is not great for post-op wounds. An excess of UV rays can actually harm the tissue around surgical scars, and damage the area. With this in mind, it is much better to enjoy any trips outside for patients in moderation and to consider advising the use of sunscreen to help protect the relevant areas of the skin.

One area within postoperative pain relief for the nursing and medical profession that is seeing change is the move away from opioid-based pain relief. As noted above, patients are now far more likely to be advised by medical staff to rely more on alternative therapies or less addictive painkillers to help them recover in the long term. Advances made by Dr. Erol Onel in this area have seen effective pharmaceutical options to help patients experience less risk when managing post-op pain.

Naturally, the way that you care for your patients and the way they themselves interact with the recovery process has seen considerable change. As time goes on, innovations such as the development of non-opioid pain relief could bring even more change, which will lead to you being able to provide a much better level of care to any patients in your charge.

Jeffery Stinton

Jeffery Stinton is a journalist who specializes in health.

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