ODPs work as a member of a multi-disciplinary team that includes doctors, nurses and support workers. Since 2004 the profession has been regulated by the HPC but was previously regulated by the Association of Operating Department Practitioners.
The professional body of the ODPs is the College of Operating Department Practitioners (CODP) previously known as the Association of Operating Department Practitioners (AODP). The Association for Perioperative Practice (AfPP) - formally the National Association of Theatre Nurses, is an organisation that offers membership and services to any person whether a Doctor, Nurse, ODP or Health Care Assistant (HCA).
ODPs are involved with the overall planning and delivery of a patient's perioperative care.
For a patient undergoing surgery the perioperative period of their care can divided into three main areas:
In some hospitals ODPs are members of "in-hospital" cardiac arrest teams, they work closely with anaesthetists to maintain the patient's airway and sometimes can instigate tracheal tubing where no other suitably trained person is available. They also attend "trauma calls" normally in the hospital's resuscitation area where they can deal with anything from babies with respiratory difficulties to major road traffic accident victims with polytrauma.
In some NHS Trusts, ODPs are also an important resource used during emergency inter-hospital transfers, mainly to Neurosurgical hospitals, decompression chambers and intensive care units. ODP's prepare and facilitate transfers arranging drugs, equipment, emergency airway apparatus, and generally assist the anaesthetist, who along with the ODP and two paramedics usually make up the transfer team.
Specially trained ODPs can also be the first assistant to the Surgeon. Swabs and instruments are all accounted for by the ODP to check that nothing has been left inside the patient.
The ODP may sometimes work in the circulating role during the surgical stage of a patient's care. In the circulating role, the ODP will give extra materials to the sterilised person, help position the patient on the operating table and plan ahead to supply what the surgical team may need during that case. They may also set up extra equipment needed, and act as a link between the scrub team and the rest of the hospital.
Some Institutions offer Accredited Prior Learning (APL) courses. For example Teesside University offers the APL Nursing course to ODP's, this enables a fast track way to become a Nurse after a year of full-time study, or the option of the Paramedical Sciences course which can super fast track the student to an Emergency Care Practitioner (an extended role paramedics) in just 12 weeks. Other Universities (such as University of Huddersfield) prefer to offer the option of a Diploma of Professional Studies for Nurses in Theatres (as there is no nationally recognised qualification for nurses in theatres) so allowing nurses to access the ODP award and thus ensuring that both groups of health care professionals are working to the same nationally recognised standards.
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