What Does A Surgical Technologist Do?

No doubt about it, the prospect of undergoing surgery is never an easy prospect. Patients have to deal with a number of emotions—ranging from uncertainty to fear about the outcome of the operation. At the very least, they want to be assured that everything will be prepared before the procedure and that the surgeons will receive all the assistance they need so they can concentrate on the operation itself. Thankfully, surgical technologists are there to do just that.

Surgical technologists are healthcare professionals whose main task is to assist surgeons during each operating procedure. Also called scrub technicians or operating room technicians, they are responsible for getting the operating room ready for surgery and seeing to it that the equipment and supplies are sterilized. They also make sure that the supplies are enough for the procedure and that the sterile solutions and medications are ready. They also ensure that all medical equipment is operational and working properly.

Prepping the patient for surgery is another important task that surgical technologists do. They would fetch the patient to the operating room and wash and disinfect sites which will be incised. After the disinfecting procedures have been carried out, they would position the patient on the operating table and cover them with sterile drapes.

Surgical technologists also assist surgeons before surgery. They help them put on their gloves and gowns so that the surgeons will remain sterile before they start operating on the patient. Maintaining a sterile environment in the operating room is of prime importance during surgery to prevent the patient from acquiring infection which would compromise his safety especially in his very fragile state. The maintenance of the sterile field lies in the hands of operating room technicians throughout the entire operation.

During the surgery, surgical technologists continue to help surgeons by passing instruments and other supplies they need. They may also be asked to keep retractors steady and even hold internal organs in place. In case the surgeon takes out a specimen from the patient’s body and wants to send it to be analyzed, it is the job of surgical technologists to bring the said specimen to the laboratory. Specially-trained surgical technologists, known as surgical first assistants, directly provide assistance to the surgeon. One of their tasks is suturing a wound. They may also aid in suctioning the site of the incision.

Surgical technologists would also count the supplies used in the procedure to ensure that all these have been accounted for. There have been cases in the past when needles, sponges and other instruments used during surgery were left inside the patient’s body. Aside from obviously putting the life and health of the patient in danger, it also makes the surgeon and the rest of the surgical team the subject of potential medical malpractice lawsuits. It’s important for surgical technologists to be very thorough in accounting for the tools and supplies each time they assist in operating room procedures.

After the procedure has been completed, surgical technologists are tasked with applying bandages and dressings to the site of the incision. They would then bring the patient to the recovery room where they can rest after the surgery. Once the patient has rested, they are also tasked with bringing the patient to his room where he will be staying until the doctors give them the clearance to go home. They would also check the operating room stock to replace the items that have been used in the surgery. It is their responsibility to restock it so that the operating room is ready for the next operation.

Surgical technologists have to be physically fit as the job can entail heavy lifting of trays filled with medical supplies and surgical tools. They also have to be ready to stand on their feet for long periods of time as there are surgeries that can last for hours. They should also not be squeamish about blood or parts of the human body that are being sliced up and sutured as this is going to be a regular feature of their jobs. They also need to follow the hospital’s safety protocols to keep themselves amply protected from the common dangers that come with the profession such as getting infected with life-threatening diseases.

Career Spotlight: Surgical Technologist

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