What does a Surgical Assistant do?

Assist surgeons during surgery by performing duties such as tissue retraction, insertion of tubes and intravenous lines, or closure of surgical wounds. Perform preoperative and postoperative duties to facilitate patient care.

Jobs Roles

  • Adjust and maintain operating room temperature, humidity, or lighting, according to surgeon's specifications.
  • Apply sutures, staples, clips, or other materials to close skin, facia, or subcutaneous wound layers.
  • Assess skin integrity or other body conditions upon completion of the procedure to determine if damage has occurred from body positioning.
  • Assist in the insertion, positioning, or suturing of closed-wound drainage systems.
  • Assist members of surgical team with gowning or gloving.
  • Clamp, ligate, or cauterize blood vessels to control bleeding during surgical entry, using hemostatic clamps, suture ligatures, or electrocautery equipment.
  • Coordinate or participate in the positioning of patients, using body stabilizing equipment or protective padding to provide appropriate exposure for the procedure or to protect against nerve damage or circulation impairment.
  • Coordinate with anesthesia personnel to maintain patient temperature.
  • Discuss with surgeon the nature of the surgical procedure, including operative consent, methods of operative exposure, diagnostic or laboratory data, or patient-advanced directives or other needs.
  • Incise tissue layers in lower extremities to harvest veins.
  • Maintain an unobstructed operative field, using surgical retractors, sponges, or suctioning and irrigating equipment.
  • Monitor and maintain aseptic technique throughout procedures.
  • Monitor patient intra-operative status, including patient position, vital signs, or volume and color of blood.
  • Postoperatively inject a subcutaneous local anesthetic agent to reduce pain.
  • Prepare and apply sterile wound dressings.
  • Assist in applying casts, splints, braces, or similar devices.
  • Assist in volume replacement or autotransfusion techniques.
  • Assist with patient resuscitation during cardiac arrest or other life-threatening events.
  • Cover patients with surgical drapes to create and maintain a sterile operative field.
  • Determine availability of necessary equipment or supplies for operative procedures.
  • Gather, arrange, or assemble instruments or supplies.
  • Insert or remove urinary bladder catheters.
  • Obtain or inspect sterile or non-sterile surgical equipment, instruments, or supplies.
  • Operate sterilizing devices.
  • Pass instruments or supplies to surgeon during procedure.
  • Remove patient hair or disinfect incision sites to prepare patient for surgery.
  • Transport patients to operating room.
  • Verify the identity of patient or operative site.
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