post anesthesia care unit

The Post Anesthesia Care Unit, PACU, provides training in the postoperative care of surgical patients.  During the CA1 or CA2 years, residents will spend two weeks covering the PACU.  As Team Captain, a CA3 resident is responsible for the management of the patients in the PACU in the evenings and on weekends.  The Milstein Hospital has 33 operating rooms and 3 cystoscopy suites.  At the Milstein Hospital there are approximately 70-90 patients admitted to the PACU each day.  Between 40-50% of the patients are ambulatory and will be discharged home directly from the PACU.

The PACU resident, under to supervision of the PACU attending, will have the responsibility for the initial postoperative evaluation and care of the patient from admission until discharge.  Cases throughout the day widely range in complexity from a straightforward MAC case that will stay in the PACU for an hour to a critically ill patient who may require mechanical ventilation and hemodynamic support.  It is very common that patients who require ICU level of care remain in the PACU overnight.

The teaching experience begins in the morning when the resident and attending covering the PACU get sign out from the previous night’s Team Captain on patients remaining in the PACU overnight.  Throughout the day, as new patients arrive, the resident keeps in close contact with the attending as they review and manage patients together.  Other responsibilities may include the evaluation of patients for emergency surgery and anesthesia consultations.

The medical director of the PACU is Dr. Tricia Brentjens.  The majority of the faculty who attend in the PACU on daily basis are trained in critical care medicine.



Columbia University Medical Center Department of Anesthesiology