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Preoperative assessment

The function of preoperative assessment is to assess any risks associated with a patient's medical history and the pending surgical operation. The patient's well-being and general fitness are assessed. Medical history, including current medication, is considered alongside which anaesthesia technique would be best performed for the patient. Information about coming into hospital is also provided to the patient. Knowing what to bring and what occurs when they come into hospital will reduce anxiety. During the assessment, the patient is encouraged to ask questions and to be part of the decision-making process in what is best for their care.

During the waiting time at preoperative assessment, patients are often asked to consent to further tests, which might include blood tests, nostril swabs for MRSA or an electrocardiograph (ECG). While this happens, the nurse/doctor will record all test results in the patient's hospital case notes and will confirm the operating site and procedure.

Nursing staff from NHS Forth Valley Hospital describe what patients should and shouldn't do when coming into hospital for their operation. Watch the patient video on preoperative assessment below:

NHS Forth Valley Pre-operative Assessment

View NHS Forth Valley Pre-operative Assessment video transcript

The anaesthetist plays a vital role in preoperative assessment too. The anaesthetist is a specialist doctor who ensures the patient's fitness is optimised before surgery when anaesthesia is required. The Association of Anaesthetists in Great Britain and Ireland (AAGBI) has published the AAGBI safety guideline: pre-operative assessment and patient preparation: the role of the anaesthetist. The safety guidelines cover all risks, all tests and the need for effective communication across the preoperative period. Watch the video below: (AAGBI 2010b).

Pre-operative Assessment and Patient Preparation

View Pre-operative Assessment and Patient Preparation video transcript