Created on: May 20, 2010
Surgical patients may receive a surprising number of new medications during their hospital stay. The most common medications used for surgical procedures can be grouped into one of several categories including antibiotics, anticoagulants, pain relievers, and steroids as well as a few miscellaneous surgical drugs.
Antibiotics commonly used in surgical patients include antibiotics covering anaerobic bacteria, drugs that treat mixed infections caused by both aerobic and anaerobic bacteria, medications particularly effective against the dangerous bacteria known as Pseudomonas aeruginosa, antibiotics that prevent infections from normal skin flora in surgical patients and antibiotics with strong action against other gram-negative bacteria that are frequent sources of infection.
Anticoagulants are medications that must be discontinued prior to surgery. These medications are then also frequently used in patients following major surgical procedures. Post-surgical patients are at an increased risk of blood clots so anticoagulants are used in an attempt to prevent this potentially fatal surgical complication. The anticoagulants commonly used include heparin and low molecular weight heparin also known as LMWH or Lovenox. Heparin is used preferentially in patients who are at increased risk of dangerous complications from bleeding because the effects of heparin, in contrast to Lovenox, may be quickly reversed by a medication called Protamine. Occasionally, certain post-operative patients require long-term anticoagulation and are placed on Warfarin after several days of Heparin or Lovenox.
Pain relievers are almost always required in patients following a surgical procedure. The strength of the pain relieving agent depends on the degree of pain and the tolerance of the patient to the pain medication. Most pain-relievers used in surgical patients are narcotics. These may include hydrocodone, oxycodone, morphine, demerol, dilaudid or fentanyl among others.
Steroids are a fourth group of medications that are used in certain patients that are planning to undergo, or have recently undergone, surgery. Steroid medicines such as prednisone or hydrocortisone are used in patients who were on steroids prior to the surgery, in patients who require immunosuppression (such as organ transplant patients), in patients with autoimmune diseases or who have Addison's disease and require hormone replacement as well as in patients
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Common medications patients may receive before and after surgery
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