A medical orderly or orderly is a hospital attendant whose job consists of assisting medical and/or nursing staff with various nursing and/or medical interventions. These duties are classified as routine tasks involving no risk for the patient.
Orderlies are often utilised in various hospital departments. Orderly duties can range in scope depending on the area of the health care facility they are employed. For that reason, duties can range from assisting in the physical restraint of combative patients, assisting physicians with the application of casts, transporting patients, shaving patients and providing other similar routine personal care to setting up specialised hospital equipment such as bed traction arrays.
Orderlies are typically found in Emergency Departments, Operating Rooms, Psychiatry, Long Term Care, and Orthopaedics.
Orderlies are described as non licensed hospital assistants that are instructed to perform delegated functions under the direct supervision of a licensed practitioner in the health care setting. While the role of nursing has traditionally been filled by women, most orderlies are men, as they may be asked to assist nurses in physically demanding procedures.
Orderlies are also called Hospital Porters in some hospitals, mostly in the UK, where the term has been mostly replaced with Health Care Assistant.
A related profession in Canada is the Personal Support Worker.
An Operations Assistant (OA) is a type of orderly trained to assist in the running of an Operating Suite. OAs require no prior formal training and learn their craft on the job. As well as fulfilling the duties of an orderly, an OA is responsible for the positioning and readiness of equipment in the operating room; and in assisting surgical staff in the positioning of the patient on the operating table. OAs are required to possess knowledge of equipment that is required for every procedure performed in the suite.
The primary duty of an OA is patient care. The application of anti-Deep vein thrombosis equipment, compression stockings, as well as padding to prevent pressure sores is one of the tasks performed by an OA for most surgical procedures. The movement of the patient from their own bed to the operating table is often coordinated by the OA and the Anaesthetist. Surgical procedures requiring the preparation of a limb with antiseptic utilise an OA to hold the limb for the surgeon whilst maintaining aseptic technique. OAs are also required to collect blood products from the Blood Bank and deliver urgent frozen section samples to the Pathology laboratory.
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