Inside the operation theatre

Team effort With eye for detail, accuracy and critical thinking  

Operation theatre technology is a detailed technical occupation in the field of health science. Also recognised by the names operating theatre technicians (OTT), surgical scrubs and operating room assistants, these nominal medical professionals are an important part of the operation unit team who work alongside with the surgeon, anaesthesiologist and nurse to provide quality patient care throughout the surgery.

These technicians ensure that every single process in the operation theatre is as secure and flourishing as possible. Their prime duty is to take care of all the work and management of the operation theatre which comprise looking after surgical instruments, their sterilisation, preparation of dressing table, operation theatre table, instrument table as well as the anaesthesia table. They also look after the drugs necessary for surgery, anesthetic gases, drapes and all the linen and their sterilisation. They bring together both sterile and non-sterile tools and at the same time regulate them to make sure that all are functioning appropriately.

Skills needed

Apart from the fundamental educational requirement, outstanding scientific, communication, and behavioural skills are necessary. An eye for detail, accuracy and critical thinking is a must. Team work is essential as this job necessitates workers to be in a partnership with other healthcare providers. Other prerequisites are an optimistic attitude, compassion and high levels of endurance and dedication. They must have the aptitude to work under minimal regulation, unpredictable shifts and long hours and must remain alert during operations. A surgical technologist must also have outstanding deftness to grip various instruments in complicated ways.

Career prospects

It is the operation theatre technician who supervises the circumstances in the operating room and continually measures the requirements of the patient and surgical team. Surgical team members function in two capacities — non-sterile and sterile. Throughout a surgical procedure, the area near the patient is referred to as the sterile field and anyone functioning in the sterile field must thoroughly scrub themselves and don sterile gloves and a gown. The sterile team members are the doctor, the surgical assistant, and the surgical technologist. During the surgery, scrub technicians in the sterile field offer suction and retraction as engaged, and hand the surgeon any essential instruments, sponges and other items. Technicians functioning outside the sterile field are said to be circulating, which means they help the other team members in monitoring the significance of the patient and the procedure. They provide extra supplies and sterile instruments required during the surgery, and assist the scrub technicians maintain a count of pads and sponges in use.

Surgical technicians clean and arrange the operating room prior to and after each procedure, ensuring that it is completely stocked with instrument and sterile disposable items. They must have the crucial knowledge and aptitude to ensure quality patient care throughout the operative process and be constantly watchful for upholding the sterile field.

Surgical technicians have differing tasks. The major tasks execute by a surgical technician include readying the operating room for surgery, arranging and checking surgical equipment, giving technical assistance to surgeons, nurses and anaesthetists, ensure patients are comfortably for surgery and getting them ready by shaving and disinfecting incision sites, among others.

Hospitals are the crucial employers of such technologists. They work in the operating theatres, ICUs and emergency unit of hospitals and nursing homes. Openings are available in transplant teams, gynaecology sections, orthopaedic clinics, cancer units, surgery, special care baby units, and so on, and also in the field of research, culture and training. They are chosen in the workplaces of physicians or dentists who carry out outpatient surgery.

Qualification and pay

Diploma in operation theatre technician, BSc and MSc in surgical technology are the main courses in OTT. The eligibility criteria for the two-year diploma and three-year B.Sc. courses are 10+2/ intermediate pass or its equal. Applicants should have a minimum of 50% marks in physics, chemistry, biology and math in the class XII board exam. Curriculum of surgical technology include of meticulous classroom training in subjects such as anatomy and physiology, biomedical science, pharmacology, pathology, microbiology, obstetrics and gynaecology, and so on. The basics of surgical procedures, equipment operation and handling skills are imparted during the course. Students are also provided hands-on clinical experience, seminars, computer-aided knowledge and visits to manufacturing units.

The pay scale varies based on one’s qualification, knowledge and apparently the status of the hospital. Graduates can anticipate something not less than ₹15,000 – ₹20,000. The salary of an individual increases with experience.

The author is Director of CEDP Skill Institute, Mumbai

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Printable version | Apr 15, 2021 3:38:03 PM |

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