Post Anesthesia Care Unit (PACU) Nurse Guide (2023)


July 18, 2022

Post Anesthesia Care Unit (PACU) Nurse Guide (1)

Post Anesthesia Care Unit (PACU) Nurse Guide (2)

By: Staff

Post Anesthesia Care Unit (PACU) Nurse Guide (3)

Post Anesthesia Care Unit (PACU) Nurse Guide (4)Medically reviewed by: Kathleen Gaines News and Education Editor, MSN, RN, BA, CBC

A post-anesthesia care unit, or PACU, nurse cares for patients who have gone under anesthesia. They are responsible for observing and treating a patient post-operation and making sure that they safely awake from anesthesia. This means that they must monitor vital signs and levels of consciousness to make sure that the sedation is wearing off properly and patients are regaining consciousness.

Some patients may experience side effects of the anesthesia or have trouble regaining consciousness. Pain, nausea, difficulty breathing fear and agitation are all common occurrences in the recovery room and will require the attention and expertise of a PACU nurse. Depending on the hospital, the PACU nurse may also be responsible for helping patients stand, completing the discharge process and changing dressings.

Because PACU nurses work in the recovery room, they are often the first person patients see after a major surgery. A good PACU nurse will provide comfort and reassurance to both patients and family members who may be worried. They will also need to be able to patiently answer questions and convey important care information, so a calm demeanor and strong communication skills also serve a PACU nurse well.

PACU Nurses vs. Operating Room Nurses

While both nurses are important to the entire surgical process, operating room nurses are responsible for preparing patients for surgery and taking care of them during surgery. An OR nurse also assists the surgeon and may be called on to control bleeding, insert sutures and administer medication. A PACU nurse takes over patient care once they have left the operating room.

PACU Nurses vs. Nurse Anesthetists

A certified registered nurse anesthetist (CRNA) is a specialized and advanced nursing field. CRNAs work with physicians and anesthesiologists to administer anesthesia in a variety of settings that could include: hospitals, dentist offices and pain management clinics. Their responsibilities include pre-anesthesia preparation and observation and maintenance during the procedure.

All of these different nursing positions represent a vital part of the health care system, but it is the PACU that monitors and cares for patients who are coming out of sedation after surgery.

A PACU nurse is a Registered Nurse. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median salary for a registered nurse in 2021 is $77,600 per year, or $37.31 per hour, but conditions in your area may vary. reports the national average salary for PACU nurse as $97,089.

Nurses often work voluntary or mandatory overtime and are compensated with time and a half pay. Additional benefits include holiday, sick time bonuses and other benefits can add thousands of dollars to the total earnings amount.

(Video) Phase I in the PACU. What is Phase I?

Top 5 Highest Paying States for PACU Nurses

While the BLS does not differentiate between different types of specialty nurses, reports the following annual salaries for PACU nurses.

  1. Tennessee - $91,975
  2. Massachusetts - $91,470
  3. Hawaii - $91,360
  4. Minnesota - $90,781
  5. Nevada - $90,555

The BLS predicts that registered nurse employment will grow by 9% from 2020 to 2030, much faster than the average career growth rate. PACU nurses should experience the same level of growth, making it an attractive field that offers both job security and lucrative salaries.

Much of this growth in the healthcare field is being driven by a large aging population. Baby Boomers represent the largest generation in America and require more care as they age and enter retirement age.

Show Me Nursing Programs

1. Become a Registered Nurse

Becoming a PACU nurse begins with earning your certification as an RN. There are several paths to becoming an RN. You can earn an Associate degree in nursing, a Bachelor of Science degree or complete a training program, all of which will qualify you to take the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN). Once you pass this exam, you can begin working in a medical setting.

2. Gain Experience

There are also several different paths to specializing in PACU nursing. You will need to begin by building experience as an RN. After a couple years, you may be able to move to the recovery unit and learn the specific duties of a PACU nurse. For some hospitals and facilities, the on-the-job experience will be enough to qualify you to be a PACU.

3. Become Certified

However, if you want to further your education and ensure that you are paid for your specialized skills, you will want to become a certified post-anesthesia nurse (CPAN). In order to apply for the certification exam, you must be a licensed RN and have accumulated at least 1,800 hours of clinical experience. Once you pass the certification exam, you will be qualified to practice as a PACU or CPAN.

Show Me Nursing Programs


This list is based on a number of factors including:

  • Reputation
  • NCLEX pass rate
  • Tuition
  • Acceptance rate, when available
  • Only ACEN or CCNE accredited schools are eligible

Because PACU nurses must become RNs and earn professional experience, this list also takes into account clinical experience and BSN outcomes.

Nurse Panel

Our selection panel is made up of 3 Registered Nurses with years of experience and multiple degrees:

  • Tracy Everhart, MSN, RN, CNS
  • Tyler Faust, MSN, RN
  • Kathleen Gaines, MSN, BSN, RN, BA, CBC

There are numerous programs that prepare students to become PACU nurses and our panel of nurses ranked them based on factors mentioned in the methodology. Because individual nursing pathways and careers take various forms, the top 10 programs are ranked in no particular order.

1. Oregon Health and Science University- Portland

Annual Tuition: $93,636

Online: No

Program Length: 4 years

A school that focuses entirely on healthcare and related fields, OHSU ranks among the best universities in the nation for nurse anesthesiology. While undergraduates won't take anesthesiology courses, they will gain clinical experience at OHSU, and that could give them early exposure to PACU nurse duties. OHSU offers an innovative BS with a major in nursing. This three-year program works with local community colleges and doesn't technically lead to a BSN, but it does lead to RN licensure. This quick program makes OHSU an affordable option, and graduates could end up working with some of the best anesthesiologists in the nation.

2. University of Pennsylvania

Annual Tuition: $85,738

Online: No

Program Length: 4 years

(Video) Postoperative Nursing Care | NCLEX RN Review

The University of Pennsylvania's nursing program ranks among the best in the nation. For future PACU nurses, the BSN's emphasis on clinical practice and mentorship could help students get early exposure to the field. This excellent four-year degree also has students work closely with one another in team settings and gives students the option to study abroad or begin an internship. After graduating, nurses end up working in some of the best hospitals across the country.

3. University of Michigan

Annual In-State Tuition: $16,404 Annual Out-of-State Tuition: $55,002

Online: No

Program Length: 4 years

While many people recognize the University of Michigan for its athletics, nurses and healthcare professionals might be more aware of its top-ranked hospital and facilities. Undergraduate students enjoy clinicals at the esteemed hospital, getting exposure to a variety of fields. U-M also boasts an extensive alumni network of more than 13,000 nurses, many of whom could help connect graduates with PACU nursing opportunities. For Michigan residents, U-M also comes at an incredibly affordable cost.

4. University of Minnesota

Annual In-State Tuition: $16,108 Annual Out-of-State Tuition: $35,348

Online: No

Program Length: 4 years

Located in the Twin Cities, the University of Minnesota's BSN program has two routes of entry: direct admission from high school or transfer, including internal transfers. Transfer students study at the Rochester campus which is also home to one of the best hospitals in the world -- the Mayo Clinic. To go this route, applicants must first complete one year of prerequisite courses, followed by a three-year nursing program. Students complete clinicals during the final two years of the program, earning valuable experience at the Mayo Clinic.

5. Johns Hopkins University

Annual Tuition: $72,017

Online: No

Program Length: 2.5 years

Aside from being the home of one of the best hospitals in the nation and top-ranked medical programs, Johns Hopkins University also has a unique nursing program for new nurses: a direct-entry MSN. Created for students with a bachelor's degree in a non-nursing field, the direct-entry MSN satisfies requirements to sit for the NCLEX. The only difference between John Hopkins' MSN and other schools' BSN programs is that nurses graduate with a master's degree from one of the top universities in the world. The MSN helps graduates compete with BSN-holding nurses for some of the top positions -- including PACU nurse jobs.

6. University of Washington

Annual In-State Tuition: $12,078 Annual Out-of-State Tuition: $39,906

Online: No

Program Length: 4 years

The University of Washington's BSN is a two-year program, though students must first complete two years of prerequisite courses. What makes UW's nursing program stand out is more than 1,000 required clinical experience hours at sites across the state, including excellent facilities like the UW Medical Center and Seattle Children's Hospital. This breadth of options lets future RNs work closely with different types of patients. Graduates often find positions in the region, and nurses can begin gaining PACU nurse experience quickly after.

7. University of California Los Angeles

Annual In-State Tuition: $37,448 Annual Out-of-State Tuition: $68,474

Online: No

Program Length: 4 years

Another excellent school with its own world-class hospital, the University of California Los Angeles also boasts one of the nation's best BSN programs. Great for nurses who plan on continuing their education or finding a specialty area (including PACU nursing), the BSN blends clinical learning and theory, providing a more academic-minded education than nurses might find elsewhere. UCLA uses a quarter system and students begin taking nursing courses during their first year.

(Video) Post Anesthesia Care Unit/Recovery after surgery/rahat qureshi

8. University of Wisconsin

Annual In-State Tuition: $10,796.40 Annual Out-of-State Tuition: $39,427.44

Online: No

Program Length: 4 years

With many great hospitals in the area, the University of Wisconsin lets nursing students get their clinical experience at multiple sites. Outcomes for the program are highly positive with 93% of recent graduates passing the NCLEX on their first try. UW-Madison uses a two-year nursing program, meaning students complete prerequisites during their first two years but don't start gaining clinical experience until their sophomore year. However, students earn 720 clinical hours during those two years, and graduates find work in various roles across the country.

9. University of Maryland

Annual In-State Tuition: $9,695 Annual Out-of-State Tuition: $37,931

Online: No

Program Length: 4 years

The Baltimore-based University of Maryland has an unbeatable location near some of the most important cities in the nation. Maryland's nursing program more than adequately prepares students for their future career despite only being a two-year program (students complete two years of prerequisite courses first). As with other schools, Maryland's excellent academics and great clinical partners help it stand out and prepare RNs to start gaining PACU experience.

10. University of North Carolina Chapel Hill

In-State Program Cost: $32,255 Out-of-State Program Cost: $91,120

Online: No

Program Length: 4 years

A Public Ivy located in Chapel Hill, the University of North Carolina prepares RNs for an array of careers with graduates working in nearly every field of healthcare (including PACU nursing). Nursing students thrive in part due to UNC's day-one application of knowledge, requiring students to begin gaining experience during their first semester. Students should prepare for a rigorous program, though, since UNC suggests that students complete several courses during the summer.

As with any nursing position, being a PACU nurse means that you work in a fast-paced environment where you have to quickly make critical decisions in order to provide the best patient care. A PACU nurse has to be diligent about monitoring patients as they come out of sedation and immediately take action if there are any complications.

This is a unique position because the patients may not be able to articulate their discomfort. It is up to the PACU to make observations and act.

A big part of being a PACU nurse is comforting patients who have just undergone surgery. They may be scared and confused once they wake up and the anesthesia can exacerbate feelings in some patients. A successful PACU nurse will be able to handle these situations with care and compassion so that the patient is put at ease and can continue their recovery.

Finally, a PACU nurse also serves as a point of contact for patients and their families. They need to be able to clearly communicate care instructions and answer any questions. Being able to work with the public and effectively communicate during stressful times is truly a skill and an important part of being a PACU nurse.

PACU nurses do not necessarily have specific requirements beyond state-mandated continuing education. However, the CPAN recertification does.

All PACU nurses are required to maintain an RN license.

Continuing education requirements for the license differ for each state. Monetary fees and other state-specific criteria are also associated with all license and certification renewals.

Examples of continuing education requirements for RNs are as follows:

  • California - 30 CEUs every two years
  • Florida - 24 CEUs every two years
  • Hawaii - 30 CEUs every two years
  • Oklahoma - 24 CEUs every two years
  • Pennsylvania - 30 CEUs every two years

Some states do not require CEU’s to maintain an RN license. Examples include Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, and Indiana. Several states also require HIV/AIDS education such as Florida or mandatory child abuse such as Pennsylvania. It is important for nurses to check their state’s RN credentialing body for exact CEU requirements. A comprehensive list can be found here.

(Video) How to be a PACU Nurse: Phases of PACU

The American Board of Perianesthesia Nursing Certification (ABPANC) is the main body that oversees the CPAN certification process. Remember that you must complete 1,800 hours of direct clinical experience over a period of two years before you can apply for certification. In order to earn your certification, you must pass a computer administered exam.

The CPAN certification will need to be renewed every three years. You can either take the exam again or complete 90 contact hours. How many hours need to be split between direct and indirect contact will differ depending on how many times you have been recertified. Outside of the recertification process, there are no there are no other continuing education requirements for PACU nurses.

Show Me Nursing Programs

While you don’t necessarily need a specialized certification to become a PACU nurse, pursuing a certification is a great way to advance your career and increase your earning potential. Once you have worked as an RN for at least two years and accumulated clinical hours, you can become a Certified post-anesthesia (CPAN) nurse and/or a Certified Ambulatory Perianesthesia (CAPA) nurse. With both certifications, you will be able to oversee both pre and post-surgery care of patients.

To become certified, you will need to pass a comprehensive exam that will test your knowledge of the psychological needs of patients, physical effects of anesthesia, behavioral changes that may occur and other complications that may put the patient at risk.

As an RN, there are many different career paths and opportunities for higher education that you can pursue. For PACU nurses who want to continue to work with patients and anesthesia, you can become a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA). These highly specialized nurses perform many of the same duties as anesthesiologists. For those with a passion for patients and healthcare, working as a PACU and/or a CRNA nurse can provide a fulfilling and rewarding career that offers opportunities for advancement.

Nurses are part of a tight-knit community that offers a wide variety of professional associations that offer support and will help you keep on top changes and opportunities in the profession, including national conferences. For those exploring various nursing careers, these associations can also be helpful sources for information. Professional associations for PACU nurses include:

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics, there are over 3.1 million nurses or 10 nurses to every 3 doctors. It might be hard to imagine that there are enough nursing positions to accommodate sure a large workforce, but nurses are a vital component of our healthcare system and many facilities are suffering from nursing shortages.

With the right educational background, you can secure a lucrative and fulfilling position that will also offer opportunities for professional development and advancement. Check out nursing jobs hiring in your area on our job board.

If you are willing to relocate, then there are certain states that stand out as great places to work as a PACU:

California: While the housing prices can be high, California is the only state to have mandated patient to staff ratios and other legal protections for nurses. You will be able to provide your patients with the best possible care and avoid burnout.

Texas: There are other states that offer higher salaries, but with a low cost of living, your money will go further and there are plenty of reputable university and VA hospitals where you can gain valuable experience.

Vermont: If you are concerned with your own quality of life, then Vermont offers an attractive combination of outdoor activities, healthy living, and fair salaries. It also offers universal healthcare to residents.

As our population continues to grow and age, the demand for highly skilled nurses will only continue to increase with thousands of new positions becoming available each year.

If you get joy and fulfillment from helping others and you have a tolerance for medical situations, PACU nursing can provide a truly rewarding career along with a lucrative salary.

  • What does a nurse do in PACU?

    • PACU nurses are responsible for all aspects of patient care after they've had surgery. This includes monitoring vital signs, administering medication for pain and nausea, updating and educating the family, and transferring to the inpatient unit or discharging depending on the acuity of the patient. PACU nurses will also be responsible for monitoring the surgical site immediately postoperatively.
  • What makes a good PACU nurse?

    • PACU nurses should be well versed in the surgical care of patients. They must have strong nursing skills and the ability to make independent decisions regarding the care of the patient. Often PACU nurses will be given an order set that will include medications for different levels of pain. It will be based on the nurse’s assessment to determine which medication is best for the patient. PACU nurses should also be compassionate, good educators, and have the ability to work in a team environment.
  • How many patients does a PACU nurse have?

    • PACU nurses will generally have between 1 and 2 patients at a time. Once a patient is transferred to a unit or discharged, the nurse will receive another patient from the OR.
  • What does PACU mean in a hospital?

    • The PACU is a post-anesthesia care unit. This unit is for the post-surgical care of patients that DO NOT need the ICU.
  • Is PACU nursing considered critical care?

    • The PACU is considered critical care and most units will require critical care experience before hiring. Some units will hire without this experience but it is rare.
(Video) Becoming a PACU/Recovery room nurse. hints and tips!
RN $70,000 - $90,000 Associate Bachelors PACU Bedside


What information should you receive from the post anesthesia care unit PACU nurse? ›

The nursing staff will review these instructions with you and a family member or friend. Your instructions will include any restrictions on activity, diet, pain medications, a follow-up with your surgeon if necessary and any signs to watch for and to report to your surgeon if necessary. 8.

What are 3 priority assessments of the PACU nurse? ›

The PACU nurse performs an immediate assessment of the patient's airway, respiratory, and circulatory status, then focuses on a more thorough assessment.

What should the PACU nurse assess first? ›

When transferring care from PACU to the ward, patient identification and handover should occur utilising the Handover Flowsheet. Initial patient assessment should include: Physical Assessment of patient including Airway, Breathing, Circulation & Disability (Link to Nursing Assessment)

What is the role of the PACU nurse in the immediate post op phase? ›

The responsibilities of a nurse in the PACU may include: Monitoring post-operative patients' levels of recovery and consciousness from anesthesia and providing updates to the treatment team as needed. Treating pain, nausea, and other post-operative symptoms of anesthesia and administering medication as prescribed.

What is PACU protocol? ›

After receiving anesthesia for a surgery or procedure, a patient is sent to the PACU to recover and wake up. The PACU is a critical care unit where the patient's vital signs are closely observed, pain management begins, and fluids are given.

What is the most common PACU emergency? ›

PONV 9.8%, upper airway obstruction 6.8%, and hypotension 2.8% are the most common.

What can go wrong in PACU? ›

In the PACU, the risk of anesthesia errors is much higher than during surgery.
However, more severe complications include:
  • improper upper airway support.
  • irregularities in blood pressure such as hypertension and hypotension.
  • tachycardia.
  • heart palpitations.
  • cardiac arrest.
  • brain damage due to lack of oxygen.
  • wrongful death.

Which assessment is crucial in the PACU? ›

On arrival in the PACU, a rapid assessment of the child should be undertaken to ensure that the child has a patent airway and that the vital signs are stable. Once the child has been properly assessed, an admission heart rate, oxygen saturation, respiratory rate, blood pressure, and temperature should be recorded.

How often is BP assessed in PACU? ›

Most national anesthesiology societies recommend BP monitoring at least once every 5 min in anesthetized subjects undergoing surgical procedures. In most cases, BP is monitored non-invasively using oscillometric cuffs.

What is the RN's primary responsibility when a patient is admitted to the PACU? ›

The nurse is responsible for assisting and maintaining adequate ventilation, hemostasis and circulation; assessing level of consciousness, providing pain management, and ensuring the safety of the patient until transferred to another unit.

What are the 4 steps to patient assessment? ›

  1. General Impression.
  2. Level of Consciousness.
  3. Open Airway [A]
  4. Check Breathing [B]
  5. Check Pulse [C] *check skin.
  6. Check Major Bleeding.

What 4 criteria are assessed during a post op assessment? ›

This assessment should include the intraoperative history and post-operative instructions, circulatory volume status, respiratory status and cognitive state.

What are 5 responsibilities of a recovery room nurse? ›

They monitor their vital signs, clean bandages and comfort patients when they wake up from anesthesia. Recovery nurses administer tests, analyze lab results and report back to surgeons and doctors. They track the progress of patients' conditions, and ensure patients receive adequate rest, food, fluids and nutrients.

What skills do PACU nurses need? ›

PACU nurses must be highly knowledgeable in the post-surgical care of patients. They should have extensive critical care experience, great communication skills and the ability to make independent decisions while caring for patients who are recovering from anesthesia.

Is PACU nurse stressful? ›

PACU nurses work in fast-paced environments that can be stressful. Most PACU nurses care for one to two patients at a time. You can expect a high rate of turnover among your patients. You'll want to be careful working as a PACU nurse because, like any nursing job, you can experience burnout.

What are the 3 post operative phases? ›

The recovery from major surgery can be divided into three phases: (1) an immediate, or post anesthetic, phase; (2) an intermediate phase, encompassing the hospitalization period; and (3) a convalescent phase.

What are the phases of PACU? ›

The postanesthesia period may be separated into three levels of care: Phase I, Phase II, and Extended Care. 5 Each phase of recovery may occur in one PACU or in multiple locations, which may include the patient's room (see Table 1).

Do you need ACLS for PACU? ›

You would be required to have attained the Basic Life Support (BLS) and Adult Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support (ACLS) certificates. A Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS) may also be required depending upon the work setting.

What medications are used in PACU? ›

Usually we give Toradol, IV Acetaminophen, Zofran and occasionally some PO Oxycodone for pain relief. Narcotic analgesics (IV first, PO when able) and anti-emetics are the usual medications given in PACU. In recent years there has been movement toward non-narcotic pain relievers to reduce narcotic use.

What should the temperature be in PACU? ›

The most common definition of perioperative normothermia is core temperature at least 36.0°C on arrival in the PACU. This number was extrapolated from studies that compared outcomes between patients with relatively large differences in core temperature (1° to 2°C) on arrival in the PACU. Sun et al.

What is the nurse patient ratio in PACU? ›

According to various guidelines and standards, PACUs should be staffed by specially trained personnel, able to care for patients who receive all types of anesthesia. Also, the ratio of nurses to patients in the PACU should be 1:2.

Is being a PACU nurse easy? ›

In this fast-paced environment, PACU nurses must always be prepared for an emergency. While anesthesia has become safer, Clifford explains, “The risk of a serious complication remains ever present. The challenge is maintaining your skills in the event of emergencies, and most of the time our patients do really well.”

What is the best position for an unconscious patient in the PACU? ›

Unless there is a very strong reason to keep the patient in the supine position, all unconscious patients should be transferred in the lateral position. Vital signs and oxygen saturation are of primary importance for the patient's well-being.

How can you improve patient flow through your PACU? ›

Similarly, improving patient flow in the PACU can be achieved when staff from every department commit to working together to identify the underlying reasons for delays and agree on appropriate solutions to resolve them.

How do you treat hypotension in the PACU? ›

Hypotension episodes should be promptly treated by intravenous vasopressors, and according to their etiology. In the postoperative setting, hypertension predominates. Continuation of antihypertensive medications and postoperative care may be insufficient.

What is Phase 2 in PACU? ›

Phase II is the level of care in which plans and care are provided to progress the patient home. This may be in the same physical location as Phase I care. Many PACU's are providing blended levels of care, in which all levels of care are provided in the same location.

Which actions are the responsibility of the nurse in the PACU? ›

PACU Nurse duties and responsibilities

Observing patients for side effects of anesthesia. Monitoring and recording patient vital signs. Monitoring patient's level of consciousness throughout sedation recovery. Performing post-operative tasks, such as administering medication or changing dressings.

Who is responsible for discharging a patient from PACU? ›

A PHYSICIAN IS RESPONSIBLE FOR THE DISCHARGE OF THE PATIENT FROM THE POSTANESTHESIA CARE UNIT. 1. When discharge criteria are used, they must be approved by the Department of Anesthesiology and the medical staff.

How often do PACU nurses get called in? ›

Call is a mandatory thing, usually 4 nights and 1 weekend a month. Usually, you can give away or take more call if you want more or less call. You aren't guaranteed hours or 40 hours per week. Some days you need to start late or early depending on the surgery schedule.

Do PACU nurses start IVs? ›

The PACU nurse will frequently check blood pressure,respiration (breathing), and pulse as well as check dressings (bandages), regulate intravenous fluids (IVs), and begin pain medication as needed.

What are the 5 P's of patient care? ›

During hourly rounds with patients, our nursing and support staff ask about the standard 5 Ps: potty, pain, position, possessions and peaceful environment. When our team members ask about these five areas, it gives them the opportunity to proactively address the most common patient needs.

What are the 4 P's of patient care? ›

The four Ps (predictive, preventive, personalized, participative) [3] (Box 21.1) represent the cornerstones of a model of clinical medicine, which offers concrete opportunities to modify the healthcare paradigm [4].

What are the 4 P's nursing? ›

It's based on the 4 P's of nursing: Pain, Potty, Position and Periphery. This is not to be confused with the 4 P's of marketing: Product, Price, Place and Promotion.

What are three goals of post operative care? ›

The ultimate goal of post-surgery rehab is to increase endurance, strength and flexibility. Any post-operative exercises should be overseen by the care of a doctor or licensed physical therapist.

What are the post operative nursing responsibilities? ›

Postoperative care promotes the client's recovery after surgery by managing pain, supporting oxygenation and cardiovascular stability, maintaining fluid balance, providing wound care, monitoring bowel function, assisting with mobility, and preventing complications.

What should I monitor post op? ›

Recovering from surgery
  • Monitor vital signs such as blood pressure, pulse, oxygen levels, and breathing.
  • Watch for any signs of complications.
  • Take your temperature.
  • Check for swallowing or gagging.
  • Monitor your level of consciousness.
  • Check any lines, tubes, or drains.
  • Check the wound.
  • Check IV (intravenous) infusions.

What is the difference between PACU and recovery room? ›

Once surgery is done, your child will go to a recovery area. This may be called a recovery room or post-anesthesia care unit (PACU). There, nurses, anesthesiologists, and other healthcare providers will closely monitor your child as they wake from anesthesia.

What makes a good recovery nurse? ›

Recovery nurses must also have excellent observation skills, be able to think critically, and be able to make quick and effective decisions. A patient's condition could change rapidly and without warning.

How do you reassure a distressed PACU patient? ›

The Proper Way Of Reassuring Patients
  1. Acknowledge the Concerns. Your main goal is to be trusted. ...
  2. Educate Them. More often than not, an anxious client has limited knowledge on the treatment. ...
  3. Cite References. An intuitive approach to reassurance will just augment the doubts of your patient. ...
  4. Display a Positive Disposition.
5 Oct 2022

What are 3 nursing interventions for a postoperative patient? ›

Assess and evaluate patient's skin color and turgor, mental status and body temperature. Monitor and recognize evidence of fluid and electrolyte imbalances such as nausea and vomiting and body weakness. Monitor intake and output closely. Recognize signs of fluid imbalances.

Do or nurses make more than PACU nurses? ›

PACU nurses typically earn higher salaries than generalist RNs. According to Payscale data from July 2022, RNs with recovery/post anesthesia care unit skills earn over $7,000 more each year than generalist RNs. RNs make an average yearly salary of $68,590, compared to $75,720 for PACU nurses.

Do PACU nurses work 12 hour shifts? ›

Registered Nurse - PACU - 15K Sign-On Bonus (221193)

RN will be required to work a minimum of four (4) 12-hour shifts per month coverage. A minimum 30-minute and not to exceed one (1)-hour unpaid meal break provided during the shift.

What are the main complications occurring in the post anesthesia care unit PACU )? ›

Nausea and vomiting (9.8%), the need for upper airway support (6.9%), and hypotension requiring treatment (2.7%) were the most frequently encountered PACU complications.

What is the role of the recovery room or post anaesthetic care unit nurse? ›

The Post Anaesthesia Care Unit (PACU) nurse receives the patient into the PACU (also known as the recovery unit). They: undertake respiratory, cardiovascular and neurological assessment and monitoring as the patient recovers from the effects of anaesthesia and surgery.

What information about the surgery and the client does the recovery nurse need from the Anaesthetist during the recovery report? ›

This will include a description of: your preoperative condition, including any medical illnesses and medications. the surgical procedure. the course of the anaesthetic, including any problems with your airway, any need for airway control in the Recovery Room, and the adequacy of recovery of muscle strength.

What is included in the postoperative care? ›

Postoperative care is the care you receive after a surgical procedure. The type of postoperative care you need depends on the type of surgery you have, as well as your health history. It often includes pain management and wound care. Postoperative care begins immediately after surgery.

What are 5 postoperative complications? ›

What complications may occur after surgery?
  • Shock. ...
  • Hemorrhage. ...
  • Wound infection. ...
  • Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and pulmonary embolism (PE). ...
  • Pulmonary embolism. ...
  • Lung (pulmonary) complications. ...
  • Urinary retention. ...
  • Reaction to anesthesia.

What are the skills of PACU nurse? ›

PACU nurses are responsible for all aspects of patient care after they've had surgery. This includes monitoring vital signs, administering medication for pain and nausea, updating and educating the family, and transferring to the inpatient unit or discharging depending on the acuity of the patient.

What are the 3 phases of anesthesia recovery? ›

Phases of Postanesthesia Care

The postanesthesia period may be separated into three levels of care: Phase I, Phase II, and Extended Care. 5 Each phase of recovery may occur in one PACU or in multiple locations, which may include the patient's room (see Table 1).

What are the 4 pillars of anesthesia? ›

The Four Pillars of Your Anesthesiology Rotation
  • General Flow of the OR. On your anesthesia rotation, you will likely be in the operating room for a significant amount of time. ...
  • Relevant Anatomy and Pharmacology. This pillar comes as no surprise to medical students. ...
  • Know Your Patient.

What happens in the post-anesthesia care unit? ›

The PACU nurse will frequently check blood pressure,respiration (breathing), and pulse as well as check dressings (bandages), regulate intravenous fluids (IVs), and begin pain medication as needed.

What are three goals of post-operative care? ›

The ultimate goal of post-surgery rehab is to increase endurance, strength and flexibility. Any post-operative exercises should be overseen by the care of a doctor or licensed physical therapist.


1. PACU NURSE: What to expect when receiving PACU Report
(I am Courtney Noel)
2. Post-Anesthesia Care – Anesthesiology | Lecturio
(Lecturio Medical)
3. Bradycardia, Complication in PACU
(PACU Nursing Minutes)
4. Phase II recovery after surgery. The short stay, discharge phase of recovery.
(PACU Nursing Minutes)
5. Post-Anesthesia Recovery - (Dr. Fain)
(University of Kentucky Department of Anesthesiology)
6. Post Op care 1
(Traci Hansen)
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Carmelo Roob

Last Updated: 03/20/2023

Views: 5767

Rating: 4.4 / 5 (45 voted)

Reviews: 92% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Carmelo Roob

Birthday: 1995-01-09

Address: Apt. 915 481 Sipes Cliff, New Gonzalobury, CO 80176

Phone: +6773780339780

Job: Sales Executive

Hobby: Gaming, Jogging, Rugby, Video gaming, Handball, Ice skating, Web surfing

Introduction: My name is Carmelo Roob, I am a modern, handsome, delightful, comfortable, attractive, vast, good person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.