The recovery process is divided into three phases:
The monitoring in Phase 1 is similar to that used in the operating room. The PACU nurses will monitor your vital signs (blood pressure, respirations, pulse rate, and oxygen saturation) for any changes. Assessment of pain (also known as the "fifth vital sign") is of primary importance here.
Pain management begins prior to surgery and continues in the recovery process. The PACU nurses closely monitor pain scores and will assess the effectiveness of the pain therapy and the patient's response to any changes in therapy.
Side effects due to surgery and anesthesia will also be assessed and treated quickly. These include nausea, decreased temperature, and emotional responses. The recovery nurses will also be checking your surgical site and monitoring your level of consciousness.
The length of time you will stay in Phase I recovery will depend on the type of anesthesia administered to you. The following list estimates time in Phase 1 recovery for specific anesthesia types.
For children under the age of 16, an exception is made to allow one parent to provide additional comfort and support during Phase 1 Recovery.
Phase 2 emphasizes the transition to readiness for discharge home. Certain criteria must be satisfied prior to discharge. In general criteria are as follows:
Other criteria may be applied to particular patients or types of surgery/anesthesia (such as the ability to walk following spinal anesthesia or the ability to urinate).
Patients then complete their recovery in the familiar and comfortable environment of their own home.