Up We Go: Ensuring Patients are Ready for Surgery

As Tucson Medical Center prepares for next year’s opening of the new TMC Orthopaedic and Surgical Tower, the nonprofit hospital is ensuring its processes are as state-of-the-art as the facility itself.

TMC is already performing pre-anesthesia testing on the vast majority of our elective surgery patients, but a governing council of physicians and clinical staff has made a new commitment to reach 100 percent of these patients.

“When a surgeon determines a patient needs surgery, it sets off a cascade of actions that need to be accomplished before that patient gets the surgery,” explained Dr. Matthew Atlas, an anesthesiologist and former TMC chief of staff who sits on the governing council.

Patients shouldn’t have a cold, for example, since they should be in the healthiest state possible to reduce the risk of complications. Doctors will want to make sure certain medications are stopped prior to surgery or run cardiac tests to check for anything that suggests the need to look more closely. Patients with implanted cardiac defibrillators will need to have them turned off prior to surgery. Doctors need to make sure pacemakers are functioning appropriately.

If any of these steps are missed and the surgery proceeds, it could result in complications at the worst, as well as delays or cancellation.

Ensuring that every patient has the necessary and standardized screening means when a patient has made arrangements for surgery, the path is cleared for a successful procedure. Doctors, too, have the assurance that their time will be used most efficiently.

TMC’s pre-anesthesia testing clinic allows patients a convenient “one-stop shop” experience, where lab draws, blood pressure, EKG and chest X-rays, for example, can all be accomplished during the same appointment. Patients can also resolve financial and insurance issues on site.

“We want to be sure that we are implementing the best practices for patients,” said Dr. Atlas. “The construction of the new tower is not only exciting, but an ideal opportunity to revisit the ways we can improve the patient experience as we prepare to move into the new facility.”

Anthony Harrell, the manager of pre-anesthesia testing, agreed that the commitment will enhance safety and efficiency. “Moving forward with 100% of our patients receiving pre-anesthesia screening and testing is a vital part of preparing our patients for surgery,” Harrell said.

Surgeons and their office staff will find a streamlined process, while improved coordination means patients will experience a reduction in the number of times they are called prior to surgery.

The first phone call from TMC will be from a registered nurse to complete a phone assessment, which will determine if the patient needs an on-site appointment for more follow-up, Harrell said.

“Overall, this is really a win-win that will improve satisfaction for both the patients and physicians.”

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Tucson Medical Center | 5301 E. Grant Rd. | Tucson, AZ 85712 | (520) 327-5461
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