Pre-emptive Patient Positioning
Posted by Clark Venable on 11/3/2005
Many surgeries require the patient to be in a position other than supine (flat on their back) for the surgery to be done. Shoulder surgery, for example, is often done with the patient in a semi-sitting or 'beach chair' position. Certain hip surgeries are done with patients on their side as well. General anesthesia is induced with the patient supine, then people have to move the patient (who is now akin to a very heavy sack of potatoes) into the right position. It's time consuming, risks staff injury, and jeopardizes the airway. The few accidental extubations I've had have occurred when the patient was being moved. Does it have to be this way? If the case is amenable to an LMA, I think the answer is 'no.'
If I'm caring for a patient who will require a general anesthetic and an LMA would be suitable, I've taken to positioning the patient before induction of anesthesia. I then pre-oxygenate, perform an IV induction, and place the LMA. The OR staff and surgeons like it because a) it saves time and b) it saves their backs. I like it because there's no move during which my airway can potentially be compromised (and because it saves time and saves my back). There's a benefit to the patient, too. Namely, they can tell us while awake whether our positioning is comfortable for them. Is the axillary role in the right place? Do they need a pillow under their knees in? Is their bottom up against the back of the table in beach chair? Is their ear properly padded in the lateral position? Think Different (but always, Think Safe).
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