Development and definition of the role of the operating department nurse: a review
In the current cost-conscious National Health Service (NHS), the role of the nurse during anaesthesia and surgery is one that has interested health service managers keen to know what happens behind the closed doors of the operating department. It is clear that if nurses working within this specialized setting are to secure a future in providing care for surgical patients, then it is important to clarify and articulate exactly what it is that their role involves. The aim of this paper is to examine the role of the operating department nurse. First, it will illustrate how the role of the nurse has evolved alongside medical and technical advances in surgery, particularly in the last century. Second, it will highlight that while definition of the role has received attention in the North American literature, references in the British literature as to what it is that operating department nurses do, are scant. Finally, it will address the evolving role of the contemporary perioperative nurse highlighting the changes and challenges that nurses who work within this setting are currently facing. It is suggested here that nurses need to engage in role definition in order to be clear about their direction for the future, particularly within the fast changing, technologically driven environment of the operating department.