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Preoperative assessment: what is it?

Carly Soutan, Preoperative Assessment Lead Nurse

At Benenden Hospital, we provide our patients with outstanding care from the moment you book your initial appointment through to your follow-up phone call after your discharged. A vital part of your patient journey, especially if you’re having a surgical procedure, is your preoperative assessment. We spoke to Carly Soutan, our Preoperative Assessment Lead Nurse, to gain insight into her clinical experience, what a pre-op assessment involves and why it is important.

Carly, can you tell us about your clinical experience?

“I’ve been lucky enough to have a very diverse career. I’ve had 13 years’ experience of being a nurse and for me, nursing has always been about providing the care that I would want to receive myself or care I would want my family to receive.

“I have worked in infectious diseases, oncology, haematology and then as a chemotherapy nurse. Following these roles, I decided I wanted to vary my professional skills and worked as a Registered General Nurse in the ambulance control room. Once I had developed my acute triaging skills, I then decided surgical nursing was where my passion lay. I’ve had the privilege to work across a couple of private hospitals prior to Benenden Hospital and this is where I honed my surgical and pre-assessment knowledge.

“Prior to this role, I took two years working as a clinical lead for a physical health check service for patients experiencing serious and enduring mental illnesses. This links with my other passion in nursing, which is the mental and emotional wellbeing of patients coming through a healthcare system.

“My role is about acting as a positive role model for the pre-assessment team, offering high-quality standards of care for patients and acting as an ambassador for pre-assessment. We work within the NICE and Preoperative Association guidelines, ensuring our services meet the highest quality.

What is a preoperative assessment?

“Your preoperative assessment is an assessment of your overall fitness and health for anaesthetic before your operation. It helps us to identify any special needs or additional requirements you may need.

“If, after your initial consultation, your Consultant has recommended you have surgery, our Bookings team will contact you so you can book a date and time for your preoperative assessment. Once agreed, an appointment confirmation will be sent to you.”

Why is a pre assessment necessary?

“Pre assessment is really important for all patients who are coming to our hospital for a procedure. Not all treatments require a pre-assessment but for those that do, they’re seen in our Outpatient department by one of our pre-operative nurses. I like to call it the gateway for anyone having a procedure and it’s about making sure that people are safe and that they are fit and can recover from their surgery better.

“For patient care, pre assessment is looking at the patient as a whole. This is achieved by ensuring that socially, they’ve got the support they need and physically, they’re well enough to go under an anaesthetic or have a procedure completed. It’s also about ensuring that mentally and emotionally they’re prepared for what it is that we’re going to do and so we can offer support before and after.”

What should I bring to my preoperative assessment?

“There are a few things we require you to bring in for your assessment. It’s very important that you bring this information with you as we’ll use it to make sure that it’s safe for you to have surgery and anaesthesia:

  • Your completed health screening questionnaire
  • If you’ve ever had any tests or scans relating to cardiology, nephrology (renal medicine), neurology, endocrinology, haematology or respiratory medicine, you should bring details (copies of any letters, test results or reports) of these with you to your appointment
  • Details of any prescription medicines that you’re taking, either a copy of your green (GP) repeat prescription form or the actual medicines in their original packets

“The Preoperative Assessment office will notify our clinical teams if there are any issues. They’ll only be in contact with you if there’s a problem.”

What tests do you do during a pre-assessment?

“We ask patients to be prepared to be in the department for between 60 and 90 minutes. No matter your medical history and the procedure you are having done, all our patients should expect us to measure your weight and height, blood pressure and pulse as standard. If appropriate, an ECG or blood test will be taken. We may also ask patients to complete swabs if they’ve had recent stays in another hospital in the UK or abroad.”

Interested in a Nursing career at Benenden Hospital?

Carly says: “I have had many highlights during the start of my role here, but if I had to pick one it would be how welcoming the whole hospital has been. I feel so well supported and encouraged in my role.  It sounds cheesy but it feels like my perfect place to work! I cannot wait to learn more and share that knowledge with everyone.

“We’re lucky we have a good e-learning and mandatory teaching programmes and any member of staff that wishes to work in pre assessment would be offered training by attending courses with The Preoperative Association.”

We have a variety of full-time, part-time and flexible roles within our Outpatient and Inpatient nursing team. If you’re interested, visit our careers page to find out more.

Published on 06 July 2023