Operating Room at Children's Hospital of Wisconsin
Though an operating room can look intimidating, the highly-skilled and compassionate people who work at Children's Hospital of Wisconsin create a caring, trusting environment for children and families.
Children are allowed to hold teddy bears or another comforting item while they are anesthetized. Staff members reassure, talk and even sing children to sleep. Parents are updated regularly during the operation and are encouraged to ask questions.
In a single day, staff in the 12 operating rooms and two special procedure rooms can handle as many as 70 cases. In one year, surgeons at Children's Hospital perform about 12,000 procedures.
Over the years, Children's Hospital has grown in the number and types of operations, amount of equipment and advances in techniques. Staff perform a wide variety of surgeries from ear tubes to organ transplants. Many disorders that used to be life threatening or fatal, such as diaphragmatic hernias and heart problems such as hypoplastic left heart syndrome now can be surgically treated with great results.
Many people work together to take care of the patient and make sure the operation runs smoothly.
The surgical services team includes:
- Circulating nurses, with the anesthesiologists, meet with the family and answer their questions. Circulating nurses help the anesthesiologist put the child to sleep and position and pad the child to make him or her comfortable during long operations. Most importantly, circulating nurses document the surgical procedure including medications the patient receives, send specimens to the lab and keep parents informed.
- Surgical technicians are responsible for the sterile set-up of instruments and equipment needed for each operation and for handing instruments to the surgeon during the operation.
- Pediatric surgeons specialize in different areas of surgery, including heart, craniofacial, dental, ENT (ear, nose and throat), eye, general, neurosurgery, neurology, orthopedic, plastic and reconstructive, organ transplant, and urology. They perform a wide variety of operations, from straightforward to very complex.
- Pediatric anesthesiologists are experts in safely putting and keeping children to sleep. They monitor the child throughout the operation, give medication to keep vital signs normal and control pain.
- Anesthesia technicians check and set-up the equipment and restock anesthesia supplies.
- An operating room manager oversees the staff and assigns surgical technicians and circulating nurses to each operating room.
- Surgical secretaries schedule operations based on schedules provided by the surgeons' offices.
In addition, a satellite pharmacy is located in the surgery area and is staffed 10 hours a day - longer if needed - by a pediatric pharmacist. Being closer to the patient decreases the time it takes to receive medications. In addition, medication orders can be clarified more quickly, medications can be anticipated and mixed ahead with less waste, and pain medications can be started during the operation instead of after children are awake.
Sometimes surgical procedures can be done without moving a critically ill child from the intensive care unit. These can include placing a catheter to relieve pressure on a child's brain or putting a child on ECMO (extracorporeal membrane oxygenation, a type of heart/lung bypass).