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Overview

Patients are brought to the Post-Anesthetic Care Unit (PACU) to recover from anesthesia after a surgical procedure. The type of anesthetic (general, regional, local or sedation), duration and type of surgery and other patient factors are taken in to consideration to determine the length of stay in PACU. Once the PACU Discharge Criteria have been met, the patients are either transferred to the Surgical Day Care Unit or admitted to an assigned hospital room.

In the PACU, specially trained nurses provide care for the patients. The focus of care in the early postoperative period is on close monitoring of vital signs and pain management. Assessments of the surgical site for excessive bleeding, discharge, swelling, hematoma, redness etc are also done. Criteria for fitness to discharge include these and also nausea, vomiting, sedation, anxiety amongst others. In the PACU, patients with specialized venous access catheters, central lines, arterial lines, ventricular and subarachnoid drains, stomas and feeding tubes are also cared for.

For patients undergoing major surgery, the PACU serves as the point of initiation of pain management strategies. Preparation, education and establishment of Patient Controlled Analgesia (PCA) are all often done in the PACU. Patients with continuous regional analgesia techniques such as epidural and perineural catheters are also closely monitored and prepared for transfer to the floor. Occasionally patients may remain monitored in PACU for extended periods of time- some patients requiring short term postoperative ventilation are also cared for in the PACU. The PACU staff closely liaises with the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) for the care of critically ill patients and when required, can arrange for the transfer of such patients to the ICU.

The patient care in the PACU is generally supervised by the Department of Anesthesia.

Patient Information

If a patient is to be admitted, personal belongings will be transferred from the Surgical Day Care Unit / Same Day Admit Unit (where the patient was before surgery) to the assigned room. Please remember to leave all valuables at home. Those who need to be admitted will be transferred by ambulance to either the Civic or General Campus. At the Riverside campus, almost all patients go home the same day.

Patients who are to be discharged home will be returned to the Surgical Day Care Unit. They may go home once they meet the SDCU Discharge Criteria (minimum of 30 minutes). Light refreshments are available since many people are hungry after their long fast. A friend or family member will be contacted and given instructions as to where and when the patient can be picked up.

Visiting patients in PACU is restricted. Since the average stay in PACU is minimal. not more than few hours, visitors are asked to wait in the lounge in the Surgical Day Care Unit (if the patient is going home that day) or on the ward to which the patient will be admitted. If a physician or nurse needs to speak to family members, it is easier to locate them if these instructions are followed.

Contact Us

The PACUs are located at the General, Civic and Riverside Campuses and can be contacted through the hospital switchboard at 613-722-7000.

For more information visit us at www.anesthesia.org/pacu

Location and Hours

Civic Campus: B Wing 3rd Floor, 24 hours per day, 7 days per week
General Campus: Critical Care Wing 1st Floor, 24 hours per day, 7 days per week
Riverside Campus: Main Hospital Operating Rooms, Mon. – Fri. 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

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