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How does the circulating nurse help prevent surgical errors?

There are two kinds of nurses that most often work in an operating room. The perioperative ones are generally registered nurses (RN). Their job is to keep bleeding to a minimum, stitch up wounds and to dress them after the procedure has been completed. The role of the circulating nurse (CN), in contrast, is to prevent surgical errors, provide support to doctors and nurses in the operating room and to advocate for the patient.

In terms of error prevention, it's the role of the CN to be on the lookout for potential errors while a surgical procedure is being performed. Their responsibilities might involve maintaining oversight to ensure that the patient's wrong body part or side isn't being operated on.

They may also be responsible for making sure that a contaminated surgical instrument is not being utilized, that intravenous fluids aren't close to running out and that the patient's vital signs are stable. The CN may also be responsible for counting surgical tools and materials to ensure that everything is accounted for before stitching the patient up.

Generally, a CN is well-trained at recognizing signs of a patient being in grave danger of serious injury or death pre-operatively as well. It's through his or her clinical training that the CN is able to analyze pre-operative blood test results in an effort to determine whether the patient is fit to undergo a surgical procedure. A CN may be able to identify a patient's pale face being an indicator of his or her anxiety also.

It's one of the many roles of the CN to express concerns over the surgical procedure moving forward when certain adverse indicators are present.

Another responsibility of the CN is to serve as a sort of liaison between the medical staff carrying out a procedure and the patient's family members as well. The CN generally greets the patient pre-surgery to help answer any questions and to quell their anxiety. The CN also meets with recovery unit staff post-operatively in order to go over the patient's operation and any critical care instructions.

If you've experienced a steep decline in your health or have become permanently disabled following an operation, then a Tucson surgical error attorney may advise you of your right to file a lawsuit in your case.

Source: Career Trend, "What are the responsibilities of circulating nurses?," Beth Greenwood, accessed Dec. 06, 2017

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