Post Anesthesia Care

Post Anesthesia Care

The Post Anesthesia Care Unit (PACU) provides a safe environment for patients following an operative procedure for which anesthesia has been required. Regardless if you have surgery as an outpatient or require admission to the hospital following more extensive surgery, you will first be admitted to Surgical Day Care (SDC).


Our staff is composed of registered nurses (RNs) who are supported by technical associates. The nurse’s goal in the PACU is to plan nursing care aimed at assisting patients with a safe return to consciousness without complications or adverse reaction to drugs or treatments. A board-certified anesthesiologist is always available to assist the nurses in treating their patients.

The nursing staff of the PACU strives to provide the very best care possible to patients following their surgery. All of our PACU nurses are certified in Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS) and pursue continuing education on a regular basis. We are proud to have several nurses hold certification in Post Anesthesia Nursing. 

Frequently Asked Questions

You will be asked to go the surgical waiting room while the patient is being prepared for surgery (change, start IV, fill-out forms). This can take as long as 30 to 40 minutes. When everything is completed, you will be able to join your loved one until surgery time.

Ideally, one or two. Space is limited.

During the surgery and recovery period, a patient liaison is available to keep your family or caretaker updated as to your status and will answer any questions or concerns that they may have. After surgery, the surgeon will speak with your family member or caretaker about your surgery and recovery. Please do not hesitate to ask the surgeon for a private consultation room.

Visitors typically are not permitted in the PACU; however, if a patient is staying longer than expected in the PACU, the nurse will try to contact you in the Surgical Waiting Room once you have sufficiently recovered from anesthesia.

Parents of young children will be invited into the PACU as soon as the child awakens from anesthesia.

Following the operation, the patient will recover from anesthesia in the PACU, where a PACU nurse will continually monitor him/her. The PACU nurse will frequently check blood pressure, respiration (breathing), and pulse as well as check dressings (bandages), regulate intravenous fluids (IVs), and begin pain medication as needed. When the patient is recovered from anesthesia, he/she will be moved to a hospital room or to the Surgical Day Care area. You will be notified of the patient’s discharge from the PACU at this time.

Average length of stay in the PACU is one to one-and-a-half hours for minor surgeries and up to three to four hours for major surgeries. If the patient stays longer than expected, do not be alarmed; a longer stay may be necessary to ensure that the patient receives the very best of care and is comfortable before being discharged.

Arrangements for translators and support services may be made in advance for several languages, including, but not limited to, French, Spanish and the hearing impaired. Please make arrangements with the pre-surgical testing staff for this service. PACU staff will work with you on the day of surgery to ensure translation service is present.