The Role of the Operating Department Practitioner
The ODP participates in the assessment of the patient prior to surgery and provides individualised care. An ability to communicate and work effectively within a team is essential. The ODP’s role also involves many clinical skills such as the preparation of a wide range of specialist equipment and drugs. These include anaesthetic machines, ventilators, vital signs monitoring equipment, intravenous equipment and airway devices to ensure the safety of the patient during anaesthesia.
*Prior to 1991 the grade was known as Operating Department Assistants (reflected in the then national award of ODA Certificate 752 accredited by City & Guilds). Since the early 90’s the profession has universally adopted the title of ODP.
Operating Department Practitioners (ODPs)*, are a vital part of the multidisciplinary operating theatre team and are concerned with the maintenance and restoration of the physiological and physical status of the patient at all levels of dependency, through assessment, planning and delivery of individualised care.
ODPs provide high standards of patient care and skilled support alongside medical and nursing colleagues during the anaesthetic, surgical and recovery phases of peri-operative period. The ODP’s role involves the application of theory to practice in a variety of clinical settings. The ODP is, therefore, required to have a broad knowledge and skill base, in addition to management and communication skills and will be involved with the assessment, implementation and evaluation of peri-operative care which can be divided into three interconnected phases. These phases being the anaesthetic phase, the surgical phase and the recovery phase.
Patient care remains the focus throughout the surgical phase and ODPs undertake, as part of the operative team, a number of roles including the ‘scrubbed’ role, application of aseptic technique, wound management and infection control. Wearing sterile gowns and gloves, having prepared all the necessary instruments and equipment for the procedure, they work alongside the surgeon. The ODP thus provides correct surgical instruments and materials in order to ensure safe and efficient completion of surgical procedures. This often involves complex equipment, including microscopes, lasers and endoscopes. The ODP has a role in the promotion of health and safety and is therefore responsible for ensuring that surgical instruments, equipment and swabs are all accounted for throughout the surgical procedure, one of the many roles required whilst acting as the patients advocate.
ODPs also undertake the “circulating” role, utilising communication and management skills, preparing the environment, equipment and acting as the link between the surgical team and other parts of the operating theatre and hospital. They must be able to anticipate the requirements of the surgical team and to respond effectively.
ODPs receive, assess and deliver patient care within the recovery unit. They monitor the patient’s physiological parameters and support them, providing appropriate interventions and treatment, until the patient has recovered from the effects of anaesthesia and/or surgery and is stable. The ODP needs to assess the patient in order to ensure they can be discharged back to a surgical ward area and evaluate the care given during the peri-operative phases (anaesthetics, surgery, recovery).
Operating Department Practitioners are a vital part of the clinical team and provide professional expertise during the patient’s stay in hospital. Although ODPs are primarily employed within operating theatres, they are increasingly being recognised for their skills in other critical care areas.
In working together as part of the multi-disciplinary theatre team alongside medical and nursing colleagues, ODPs gather a huge amount of clinical experience and knowledge. This enables ODPs to practise in so many clinical areas as these skills and knowledge are transferable to many different health care specialities.