Calming patients before surgery: Strategies for medical professionals

Calming patients before surgery: Strategies for medical professionals

Anxiety is a common response for many patients prior to surgery. This emotion is typically a consequence of a fear of the unknown and concerns about potential problems that could occur while under the knife, among other things, an article from Informed Health Online, published by the U.S. National Library of Medicine explained. Pre-surgery anxiety levels will vary between individuals, ranging in severity from mild to severe, with common symptoms including issues with sleeping, nausea, and an elevated heart rate.

While a certain level of worry among patients about to receive an operation is perhaps unavoidable, there are strategies that health care professionals can implement to help patients manage their anxiety. Some of the most effective approaches include:

1. Making information widely available
As detailed by Scrubs Magazine, it is important that physicians, surgeons and other health care providers disseminate information concerning what happens before, during and after surgery, in a way that is detailed yet still understandable. The reasoning behind this is straightforward – the more a patient understands, the less likely it is that they will worry. This information can be delivered in a number of combined ways. In-person consultations are helpful, as is educational literature. The source even reported that videos can be an effective medium through which to deliver pre-surgery information.

It should be stressed, however, that some patients will want to know more information than others. For example, while it's essential that all basic details are relayed, such as the risks, recovery time, and so on, it is perhaps less necessary for patients to know complex details of the surgical procedure itself. Still, some people will want to know. It is up to the health care professional to discern whether the patient wants this information to be made available. An article by the American Academy of Ophthalmology included an interview with Dr. Steven I. Rosenfeld, who elaborated on this important point. 

"Videos can be an effective medium through which to deliver pre-surgery information."

"Most patients give you very clear signals about how much they want to know. There are some who want to know every detail about what you're doing, and there are some who just want to be snowed." he stated.

2. Offering sedatives
It is routine for health care providers to offer patients sedatives, which can help induce feelings of sleepiness as well as relaxation, the article from Informed Health Online, published by the U.S. National Library of Medicine detailed. The medication is usually administered to patients in the hours immediately preceding surgery. In cases where patients are required to be hospitalized in the days leading up to the surgery, sedatives and anti-anxiety medications can be provided to manage anxiety, especially at night before sleep.

3. Bonding with patients
Arguably one of the most anxiety-inducing moments of the surgical procedure for patients is the time frame just before the anesthesia is administered, while they are lying on the table. An effective way to help patients calm down, therefore, according to Scrubs Magazine, is for providers to initiate conversations that can help keep patients' attention away from the surgery. From the weather to family or animals – any kind of friendly conversation can help calm the nerves of the individual about to go under. The source understands this as "creating a therapeutic bond." The source reported on a study which found that sedation may be needed less frequently when this strategy is implemented.

Pre-surgery anxiety is a common issue. Pre-surgery anxiety is a common issue.

4. Recommending relaxation techniques
While their efficacy has yet to be demonstrated via scientific study, there are a number of non-medical interventions that many individuals claim can help reduce anxiety. Examples include activities such as yoga, massage and meditation, as well as breathing exercises that can help steady heart rate. Medical providers are advised to recommend some of these approaches, particularly for patients who are reticent to embrace medication. 

5. Embracing single use tools
Recent studies have indicated that reusable medical tools pose a small yet notable threat of cross-contamination with certain viruses. For example, a study from Brigham Young University found that disinfection chemicals used to ostensibly kill viruses are actually unable to eradicate several of the most dangerous forms of the human papillomavirus. This is a particular concern when it comes to the utilization of reusable vaginal speculums, as HPV is strongly linked with the development of cervical cancer. Furthermore, a literature review from the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists, which outlined the findings of several studies, explained that traces of human DNA – namely saliva and traces of blood – are often present on reusable laryngoscopes. This increases the risk of cross-contamination with chronic conditions such as HIV and HPV. 

Given the availability of literature regarding risk of cross-contamination, as well as general knowledge concerning the ever present risk of surgical site infections, there is a notable chance that patient anxiety may be induced or exacerbated for these reasons. One surefire way to protect patients from cross-contamination, and reduce anxiety in the process, is for health care professionals to embrace single-use medical tools at all times. Single-use tools are designed to be safely used and then disposed of, immediately after utilization. Given that they are only every used on one patient, they eliminate the risk of cross-contamination. Health care providers are encouraged to inform patients that single-use tools are being adopted, to allay any fears over the risk of cross-contamination.

Consider OBP Medical
Health care providers are encouraged to consider the range of single-use tools available from OBP Medical, including the ONETRAC Single-Use Cordless Surgical Retractor. Designed with patient safety in mind, the tool is ready assembled and easy to use. Furthermore it comes with a safe LED light source that can be disposed of, without the risk of heat inducing fires. Furthermore, the device eliminates the cost of reprocessing – both in terms of time and financially. This tool can be used for an array of surgical procedures, but is particularly well-suited to breast augmentation procedures. To learn more and to request a free sample, click here

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