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​Pre-operative Assessment Unit

This unit aims to optimise each patient's health, prior to surgery.

The pre-operative assessment clinic is a nurse-led service (overseen by two Anaesthetic Consultants) that specialises in assessing, preparing, and improving health for planned surgery at any of the Dorset County Hospital sites.

All types of pre-operative assessment are performed by qualified Specialist Nurses who have undertaken additional training, and are experienced in all aspects of pre-operative assessment and care. Should you have more complex medical issues, you may also be seen in an Anaesthetic Consultant-led clinic. This may require a separate hospital appointment.

The type of pre-operative assessment is dependent on many factors including; the type of surgery, the length of surgery, any medication taken or underlying medical problems.

Types of Pre-operative Assessment

Triage Postal Assessment
You may receive a health screening questionnaire in the post. Please carefully complete all sides of the questionnaire, answering all the questions and providing full medical details when necessary.

  • Please document your height and weight (Please arrange to weigh yourself, if you do not have scales). This is important information for your anaesthetist to calculate anaesthetic drugs
  • If you take medication, please include a copy of your most recent repeat prescription and write a list of any herbal or non-prescription medications

All the information provided is vital to accurately assess your fitness for surgery. Once you have completed the form in full, please return it in the pre-paid addressed envelope provided.

The assessment process can then begin. Please note that surgery may be delayed, if the form is not returned in a timely manner.

We may contact you for further health information, or to request a blood test, heart tracing or repeat routine swabs.

Alternatively, a decision may be made for you to come into the hospital for an appointment to see a Nurse or Anaesthetist. This is a normal part of our assessment process and is nothing to be concerned about.

Telephone Assessment
You may receive a phone call from one of the specialist pre-operative assessment nurses, who will undertake an assessment over the phone, if surgery is urgent.

Face-to-Face Assessment
If deemed necessary, you may be asked to attend the pre-operative assessment clinic with either a Specialist Nurse or a Consultant Anaesthetist. This provides an opportunity for a more in-depth assessment, relevant to patients with more complex health needs, or for operations requiring a longer hospital stay post-operatively. It may be useful to bring someone else with you to the appointment.

How Long to Allow for the Appointment
Appointments can take approximately one to two hours depending upon the type of surgery being assessed, and any investigations that may need to be carried out.

Please Bring the Following with You

  • Reading glasses, as you may need to complete some forms when you arrive
  • A current prescription and  a list, giving full details, of any herbal or non-prescription medications that you take
  • Any questions or concerns that you may have, ideally written down, so that we can answer them during the appointment
  • Please wear suitable clothing because you may have a physical examination

What Happens During the Appointment
You can eat, drink and take your medication, as normal, on the day of your appointment.

The assessment will generally involve:-

  • An electrocardiogram (ECG). This is a way of recording the rate, rhythm and electrical activity of your heart. It is a simple test that does not cause any discomfort or pain. Please note that you will need to partially undress for this test
  • Swabs being taken for MRSA (methicillin resistant staphylococcus aureus), a type of bacteria that can cause infections. A positive swab result can easily be treated before surgery
  • A urine test to identify infection which can be treated with antibiotics before you have surgery
  • Recording your height and weight 
  • Blood pressure, pulse, temperature and/or respiratory rate measurements
  • Routine blood tests
  • A physical examination to listen to your heart and lungs, and any other body system of concern at assessment
  • Medication review and advice for surgery. Some medications are temporarily stopped before surgery. This will be discussed at your appointment and written advice provided

Whilst every effort is made to attempt to complete all tests and investigations in one visit, you may need to re-attend if further specialist tests or investigations are needed. The specialist nurse or Consultant Anaesthetist will refer you to the relevant hospital department, or arrange these tests via your GP service.

After the Appointment
The nurse will only make contact with you if any test results are abnormal, or any medical issues are identified that require further investigation or treatment before surgery. This may include high blood pressure, diabetes or an abnormal heart rhythm. A member of the pre-operative assessment team will contact the relevant GP or community nurse to arrange a follow-up.


Unit Information

Opening Times
Monday to Friday 8am to 6pm

Find Us and Contact Us
Pre-operative Assessment Unit
South Wing Entrance One
Level One,
Dorset County Hospital

Appointments and Administration: 01305 254222

If you feel unwell the day before your appointment, please ring us to cancel and re-arrange.

For further information please visit:
https://www.rcoa.ac.uk/patient-information
https://www.dchft.nhs.uk/patients/departments-A-F/Pages/Anaesthesia.aspx