Many pharmacists have little direct contact with surgeons or surgical procedures because their area of practice lies outside this sphere of medicine. However, some patients require certain types of medication therapy after surgery, and pharmacists can assist them with their post-surgery treatment.
For example, patients will often be given pain medications after a surgical procedure. Pharmacists can check with the patient to make sure they understand how and when to take the medication and check also about any possible side effects they may be experiencing, such as confusion, severe drowsiness, breathing difficulties, inability to urinate or falling. If a patient is experiencing any of these symptoms, they need to seek immediate medical attention.
Other less severe side effects include constipation, nausea and vomiting, itchiness, dry mouth, dizziness or vision problems. Patients should contact a physician if experiencing any of these symptoms.
For patients who have undergone bariatric surgery, pharmacists need to be aware that there are drugs that could harm the stomach pouch that remains after surgery. There may also be nutritional deficiencies and dumping syndrome.
After surgery there is also not as much acid in the stomach pouch, which affects the person’s ability to process drugs and food. One of the most common problems following bariatric surgery is calcium deficiency.
Pharmacists may need to compound medications for patients who have undergone bariatric surgery to help them with nutrition, pain management, electrolyte balance, hair loss, and skin problems, among others.
After surgery, many patients also require supplies for wound care, and pharmacists can assist them with post-op medical and rehabilitation supplies to smooth the path of their recovery and make it as comfortable as possible.
Wound care supplies include things like gauze, medical gloves, alcohol wipes and disinfectants, bandages and pain medication.
What Happens Before and During Surgery
Just prior to surgery, hospital pharmacists take over care of the patient, reviewing the medication regimen and adding or deleting medications as needed because of the surgery.
During surgery patients can be given a number of different medications. Antibiotics need to be administered before and during surgery. Many of them are a one-time dose. Lidocaine, bupivacaine and similar drugs are often administered as local anesthetics. Medications such as IV Tylenol, toradol, morphine, and fentanyl may also be given. Surgeons may also sometimes administer neuromuscular blockers like vecuronium and rocuronium to paralyze skeletal muscles to make it easier for them to make incisions.
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