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Pre-admission testing vital step before hospital visit.

Naperville Sun HealthAware column:

Pre-admission testing supports safety, good outcomes
April 1, 2013

You may have had surgery, endoscopy or another procedure requiring sedation or anesthesia, but you most likely didn’t give a lot of thought to those advance phone calls from the hospital. But those conversations with staff from Pre-Admission Testing (PAT) help ensure the safest hospital experience, the best possible outcome and the least hassle. These health care professionals may even help you catch a budding health problem while it can be stopped or easily managed.

Nurse Margo Cesarano, clinical leader of Edward Hospital’s Pre-Admission Testing Department, says the process starts when the hospital’s Surgical Scheduling Department notifies PAT that a patient is coming in for a procedure. This triggers a call from one of PAT’s registered nurses to the patient to talk about their medical history, medications, allergies and past sensitivities to anesthesia. The nurse also explains any tests that will be needed, which most commonly include at least an EKG; blood work, such as liver and kidney function and blood counts; and a test of pulmonary (lung) function.

“We do as much of the pre-admission as possible over the phone and help patients schedule their tests in a way that will minimize trips to the hospital,” says Angela Short, a PAT nurse. “We know how busy people are. We also help educate patients about what they can expect before and/or after their surgery or procedure. And in some cases, we let the surgeon’s office know that the patient needs more information.”

For this initial round of tests and any needed pre-admission follow-up, PAT coordinates with the surgeons, anesthesiologists, primary care physicians and other hospital departments.

“We review all the test results, and if anything lies outside the normal range, we’ll notify both the surgeon and the anesthesiologist,” Cesarano says.

Sometimes other specialists, such as cardiologists, will be involved. If something abnormal comes up on cardiac tests, for example, the surgery or procedure might have to be postponed until the patient can be on medication for a while, or additional cardiac tests or procedures may be needed.

“In Pre-Admission Testing, we often can say ‘We catch first,’” Cesarano says. “You’d be surprised at how many people didn’t know they had a heart problem until they came in for their preadmission testing. By catching the problem early, it’s often possible to head off a more critical situation.”

PAT’s staff includes experienced clerks, and nurses with backgrounds, including cardiology, surgery, pediatrics and others. Cesarano alone has chalked up 38 years in nursing, and Short, 30 years.

Short’s experienced judgment was evident during a recent pre-admission conversation when the patient’s responses over the phone became somewhat incoherent. Short set in motion a well-being check by the woman’s son and neighbor that ultimately ended up in an ambulance trip to the hospital and treatment for a stroke.

“I like to think we added some years to that woman’s life.”

While the work may be less visible than that of other health care professionals, PAT’s role can be just as critical to patient care and safety.

Learn more about what to expect before, during and after your hospital stay.


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801 S. Washington, Naperville, IL 60540 • (630) 527-3000

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