Instructions for Drivers of Post-anesthetic Patients

This may be your first experience caring for someone who has experienced outpatient sedation or general anesthesia. Unlike local anesthesia, a short-duration general anesthetic for a surgical procedure produces lingering effects. Therefore, we require all patients receiving a general anesthetic to be accompanied by a driver who remains in the reception area during the procedure. The length of time a patient remains in our office varies greatly; however, an in-office recovery period of thirty minutes could be considered average.

After surgery the patient is assisted to the recovery area in our office and the driver will be asked to sit with and assist the patient. Here patients are in various stages of wakefulness because the general anesthetic affects each patient differently. Some patients may be very sleepy; some are restless; some are quite aware of their surroundings. Occasionally some may feel disoriented; this is especially true of our younger patients. Others may feel nauseated, appear pale, and upon standing, become weak. While these are normal responses, our surgical staff will be available to assist until the patient is comfortable and ready for discharge.

In the recovery area, the staff will instruct you and the patient regarding home care instructions.

  • The patient is to bite firmly on a gauze bandage to stop oozing in the surgical site. The gauze bandages may require changing periodically. Because a local anesthetic, in addition to the general anesthesia, is given during surgery no discomfort is experienced during the bandage changes and up to about 8 hours post-operatively.
  • The patient is cautioned not to bite their lips or tongue to test the numbness. Because of the local anesthetic, the patient may comment on difficulty speaking and swallowing, dryness of the mouth and numbness of the lips and face.
  • Be available to give assistance and encouragement as needed. The staff will be monitoring the patients progress and the recovery area is fully equipped for care.

The staff will give the driver and patient further instructions before returning home. These are very important!

  • Assist the patient walking to your car.
  • Have the patient sit in the passenger seat, assisting them with their seat belt.
  • Remember, patients may appear to understand all instructions given to them, but the medications may hinder their memory. Upon returning home, make the patient as comfortable as possible and then review the instructions.