Peripheral nerve blocks boost responsibilities

Postoperative pain is a major limiting factor of outpatient surgery, which is making the use of peripheral nerve blocks (PNBs) increasingly common. As use of PNBs becomes increasingly popular in outpatient surgery facilities, the complexity of nursing responsibilities for these patients has increased, writes Imelda Wright, BSN, RN, CNOR, unit educator and clinical informatics nurse in the Outpatient Surgery Center at Baptist Hospital East in Louisville, KY.

Wright authored the article "Peripheral nerve blocks in the outpatient surgery setting" in AORN Journal.1

Nurses in the perioperative environment who care for patients before, during, and after block administration need to be knowledgeable about PNBs and competent in identifying and managing potential complications, Wright says. As many patients have to manage their blocks in the home environment postoperatively, she emphasizes the importance of delivering concise postoperative instructions. She says education is paramount for helping patients have a safe and uneventful recovery from the block.

Wright's article describes types of nerve blocks, potential complications, and adverse effects, as well as symptoms and treatment for complications and adverse effects. Although complications of nerve blocks are infrequent, Wright recommends all staff members observe the patient for early signs of complications.


1. Wright I. Peripheral Nerve Blocks in the Outpatient Surgery Setting. AORN J 2011; 94: 59-77. Doi:10.1016/j.aorn.2011.02.011