Q What do nurses in intensive care units need to know about the care of patients after anesthesia?

A Roberta Kaplow, RN, PhD, CCNS, CCRN, AOCNS, replies:

Based on the physician’s preference or the intraoperative course, patients may be admitted directly from the operating room to the intensive care unit (ICU). Therefore, ICU nurses must be familiar with standards of care for patients in the immediate postoperative period, anesthetic agents, and management of potential complications. All patients admitted directly from the operating room must have standards of postoperative monitoring maintained. Constant surveillance is required.11 

Cardiac output affects the degree to which an inhalation agent moves from alveoli to arterial blood. As the anesthetic agent reaches the tissues by the bloodstream, the more blood-rich tissue receives more of the anesthetic agent. As some inhalation agents are also fat soluble, they are absorbed...

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