Recording Important Vital Signs After Having Surgery
Whether you stay in the hospital for a few days or return home immediately after surgery, it is important that you or, better yet, a caregiver keep a journal tracking some vital information. If this information is not recorded and an emergency occurs, information recounted from memory could be convoluted and partial, at best. At worst, it could be erroneous which could lead to your doctor recommending an inappropriate, potentially harmful, treatment. Below are five vital statistics that you or your caregiver should record after the surgery.
Periodically take a reading of the patient’s temperature. Whether you use a mouth, ear, or other type of thermometer, make sure that the reading is as accurate as possible. Record the temperature and the time it was taken. It is a good idea to do this every four hours, unless the doctor specifies differently.
2. Blood Pressure
So many vital body functions are affected by blood pressure, particularly post-op, and spiking or plummeting blood pressure is an indication that something is wrong. Like the patient’s temperature, take an accurate blood pressure reading and record it along with the time. Your local drugstore will have a good selection of moderately priced digital blood pressure monitors. These monitors are very easy to use and will provide you with the readings you will need to record. It’s efficient to take and record temperature and blood pressure at the same time.
3. Medicine Taken
Record the name of the medicine exactly as it is written on the bottle, the dosage amount (number of pills or amount of liquid), the milligrams or micrograms of the medicine, and the time it was taken. Also, note any side-effects experienced by the patient. For example, if the patient’s pain medication causes dizziness, write it down.
4. Food/Liquid Consumed
Anything that goes in the patient’s mouth should go down in the journal. Whether the patient feels good enough to wolf down a hamburger or just nibble on a few crackers, write it down. Whether the patient takes a few sips of ginger ale or gulps down a large smoothie, write it down. Record the type of food or drink, how much was consumed, and when it was consumed.
5. Frequency of Urination and Bowel Movements
Important? Yes! And vital information in the eyes of a doctor. Record when (date and time) the patient urinates or has a bowel movement. Note if there is anything unusual, such as the presence of blood. Also, jot down any complaints from the patient (e.g. the patient feels constipated).
Of course, this list provides only the basic vital sign information. Depending on the nature of the surgery and the health of the patient, it may also be beneficial to record other information such as the patient’s blood sugar level or amount of sleep. Should your loved one require any emergency post-op care, the doctor will be happy to have the journal of symptoms to help determine a quick and accurate diagnosis and treatment options. Hopefully, in just a few days after surgery, your friend will be healing nicely and you can toss the journal in file thirteen.