Recovery room


The recovery room, also called a post-anesthesia care unit (PACU), is a space a patient is taken to after surgery to safely regain consciousness from anesthesia and receive appropriate post-operative care.


Patients who have had surgery or diagnostic procedures requiring anesthesia or sedation are taken to the recovery room, where their vital signs (e.g., pulse, blood pressure, temperature, blood oxygen levels) are monitored closely as the effects of anesthesia wear off. The patient may be disoriented when he or she regains consciousness, and the recovery room nursing staff will work to ease their anxiety and ensure their physical and emotional comfort.

The recovery room staff will pay particular attention to the patient's respiration, or breathing, as the patient recovers from anesthesia. A pulse oximeter , a clamp-like device that attaches to a patient's finger and uses infrared light to measure the oxygen saturation level of the blood, is usually used to assess respiratory stability. If the oxygen saturation level is too low, supplemental oxygen may be administered through a nasal cannula or face mask. Intravenous fluids are also frequently administered in the recovery room.

Because general anesthesia can cause a patient's core body temperature to drop several degrees, retaining body heat to prevent hypothermia and encourage good circulation is also an important part of recovery room care. Patients may be wrapped in blankets warmed in a heater or covered with a forced warm-air blanket system to bring body temperature back up to normal. They may also receive heated intravenous fluids.

The amount of time a patient requires in the recovery room will vary by surgical or diagnostic procedure and the type of anesthesia used. As the patient recovers from anesthesia, their post-operative condition is assessed by the recovery room nursing staff. A physician may order analgesic or antiemetic medication for any pain or nausea and vomiting, and the surgeon and/or anesthesiologist may come by to examine the patient.

Both hospitals and ambulatory surgical centers have recovery room facilities, which are generally located in close proximity to the operating room . A recovery room may be private, or it may be a large, partitioned space shared by many patients. Each patient bay, or space, is equipped with a variety of medical monitoring equipment. To keep the area sterile and prevent the spread of germs, outside visitors may be required to don a gown and cap or may be prohibited completely. Spouses or partners of women who are recovering after caesarean section and the parents of children recovering from surgery are typically excluded from any visitor prohibitions in the recovery room. In fact, parents are usually encouraged to be with their child in recovery to minimize any emotional trauma.

In some ambulatory surgery facilities, patients may have a different post-operative experience if they receive short-acting anesthetic drugs for their procedure. This protocol, known as "fast tracking," involves either shortening the time spent in the PACU or, if clinically indicated, bypassing the PACU altogether and sending the patient directly to what is known as a phase II step-down unit. A step-down unit is an "in between" transitional care area where patients can rest and recover before discharge with a lesser degree of monitoring and staff attention then in a PACU.

Normal results

After the effects of anesthesia have worn off completely and the patient's condition is considered stable, he or she will either be returned to their hospital room (for inpatient surgery) or discharged (for outpatient surgery ). Patients who are discharged will be briefed on post-operative care instructions to follow at home before they are released.



Hatfield, Anthea, and Michael Tronson. The Complete Recovery Room Book, 3rd edition. London: Oxford University Press, 2002.


Duncan, Peter, et al. "A Pilot Study of Recovery Room Bypass ("Fast-track Protocol") in a Community Hospital." Canadian Journal of Anesthesia 48 (2001): 630.


American Society of Anesthesiologists. 520 N. Northwest Highway Park Ridge, IL 60068-2573. (847) 825-5586; Fax: (847) 825-1692. .

Paula Ford-Martin

User Contributions:

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I would like to inquire about some things concerning the operations of connecting the spermatic cord is it possible and what is the most famous place to conduct these operations
Is it normal to wake up a patient in the recovery room instead of letting them regain consciousness on their own accord??

I recall being woken up from a very deep sleep by a member of staff in the recovery room after I had undergone surgery under a general anaesthetic, I just didn't feel it was right that this was done.
Cassie - I don't know if anybody has got back to you get, but incase you are panicking (and I am NOT a specialist in this field, I am a Registered Nurse) ... Yes it normal to be woken by a nurse/Dr in recovery room. Your body needs to regain somekind of consciousness(and not by physical stimuli) to take the ETT or LA tube (breathing apparatus) from your airways and that you are able to maintain good patent airways - patients tend NOT to remember this stage. You have continual observations on you both physical and visual - part of those observations is a rousal/conscious score. The other reason might be that you sleeping to deeply and your breathing resp may have been low (and rousing you rectifies that!). I am a nurse now, but I have been a patient in your position many times before that and now what you mean! I also know that it feels like they are waking you up constantly every 5mins but reality it is probably every 30 - 60 mins. Hope it helps somewhat!
what are the characterstics of patient get out from recovery room(concious ability toread
I had a recto plexi in jan 2011, i am still having considerable pain in my passage and my righ side above my hip. I am taking gabapentin to help with the pain. I am still in considerable pain.
can anyone give me advice pls.
Jocelyn D. Manrique
I just wanted to asked if its alright that the oxygen mask can be left hanging on the oxygen wall without any cover.
How long is reasonable or normal for a child to be left in the recovery room? My niece was recently left for one and a half hours in full hearing of groaning adults also coming round it was pretty unpleasant.
carmen eidan
Can you please tell me what the procedure is called when you bring are bringing someone round from the antithetic that does not respond to voice and how is this applied?
After pelvic prolapse surgery, my stay in the recovery room stretched to 5 hours. What was to be out-patient surgery turned into a 4 day hospital stay. I came around in recovery and heard 'give her more Epi, now', and remember asking a stupid question, at which point I was aware of the bed being dropped and my head going down and my feet up, I beleive the trendelenburg or whatever position and then I went back out. I never was told why I was in recovery for 5+hours instead of the very short time I was supposed to be there, or why my outpatient turned into a several day stay. I want to know why Epi was administered to me, evidentially more that once during this recovery, if possible. What scenarios would warrant this? As I had this problem with being put under, it scared me because in watching medical programs,what I saw giving epi is not good, and I have delayed a needed colonoscopy because I will have to be put to sleep because I was not able to be sedated properly for the last one and could not be given more sedation, and endured it in what you might as well call an unsedated state.

The doctors that did this surgery skated around the questions I had and I was never able to get an answer. I need to dispell my fears to have this 6 yr. overdue colonoscopy. Any answers? Am I crazy about nothing? Thanks.
I am scaryed because I am about to have surey on my belly and my family is comeing with me.
Abubakar Mamman Ingaw
Is good to have recovery room in our hospital as it can assist in saving life.
I had a lumpectomy at the same time I had a chest port inserted. I don't remember being in recovery at all, just back to the area with other beds where my husband was waiting for me. My surgeon told me all went well. Why don't I remember being in Recovery? She said I talked and answered questions.
I had a double ceviche disc desectomy and artificicial disc replacement and two bone spurs removed 8 days ago. I was admitted because after spending 5 1/2 hrs in the recovery room I could not breathe on my own and every time I dosed off I stopped breathing. The nurse that stayed by my side for hours stated that they overdosed me on narcotics in recovery. I was sent home the next day being told I could only take Tylenol for the pain because of the overdose. I have been dealing with my lungs filling up with flem when I sleep and a very, very tight chest with bought a of trouble catching my breath. Is this common and do I need to be concerned for my future respritory health. Never had issues before surgery.
Melanie Weaver
When a patient is in the recovery ward following major surgery in the evening, will the ward by darkened? Or are the lights kept on while patients are present?
Linda Centracco
I experienced excruciating pain in the recovery room during this last week while undergoing a left hip replacement surgery. Has anyone else experienced this? I've had multiple surgeries and never a bad experience in the recovery room until this surgery.
Hari Krishnan
After my son's appendicectomy, I was not allowed to go and meet him the post-op recovery room by the Operating Room staff. The say that people in street clothes (not the samee as dirty clothes, I may add!) cannot enter the recovery room. Is this true?
what is the specific time for the to stay in recovery room
What is the age limit to go into a recovery room???
Peter Lavskis
Is it normal practice to move a patient out of the recovery room to a ward before they have recovered consciousness.
Sofia Jenifer
information are useful to study. if the references is in APA means it is more benefits for the student to take notes.. thank you

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