Nurse taking care senior man to bed in the room at home.

After-Surgery Care at Home: The Vital Role of Registered Nurses in Recovery

The presence of a registered nurse (RN) at home can be a game-changer when coming home from the hospital. This isn’t just a matter of convenience; it’s a crucial step toward a smoother recovery and avoiding post-operative complications. 

Studies indicate that up to 15% of people will experience a post-operative complication, with as many as 6% of people having multiple complications. Let’s delve into why post-operative nursing care from an RN is of paramount importance.

Why In-Home Nursing Care Matters

Comfort in Familiar Surroundings

Returning home after surgery brings comfort and familiarity. We know you want to sleep in your own bed, shower in your own bathroom, and be surrounded by your family and pets.

However, transitioning from hospital to home can be daunting. You or your loved one will be leaving with:

  • Instructions for care.
  • The responsibility of keeping things like your new and old medications organized.
  • Getting in to see your primary care provider within 1-2 weeks of discharge.

Having a private duty nurse visit ensures that medical attention continues seamlessly, easing the transition while reducing stress for everyone. 

Personalized After Surgery Care at Home

Every patient’s needs are unique. An RN tailors care plans to individual requirements, ensuring that each person receives personalized attention. From medication management to wound care at home, the RN’s expertise ensures that recovery progresses smoothly. 

Furthermore, personalized care should also ensure that the skillset of the nurse is appropriate for the person. As an example, someone going home after having open heart surgery should be cared for by nurses who have experience in open heart surgery and/or critical care. These nurses are best positioned to provide the current evidence-based practice. 

Monitoring Vital Signs

Post-operative complications can arise unexpectedly. This can include unanticipated blood loss and infections. An RN monitors vital signs regularly, detecting any signs of trouble early on. This proactive approach prevents complications from escalating, potentially saving lives. 

This allows the nurse to work with your current medical team to get you or your loved one the care you need — most often without even needing to leave home. 

Skilled Nursing Education & Guidance

Understanding the recovery process is crucial for both patients and their families. An RN provides valuable education and guidance, empowering patients to take charge of their recovery journey. 

From proper nutrition to recognizing warning signs, education plays a vital role in preventing complications. The goal of the private duty nurse will always be to empower the person and their family, but they are able to step in and do the work as well, so everyone can just sit back and relax from caregiving responsibilities. 

Nursing visits will be recommended to you based upon a variety of factors, including: 

  • The surgery that was just performed.
  • Any other medical conditions that are important to consider in recovery.
  • The person’s community and social support that is available to help.

The more complex a person’s medical history, the more likely they are to have post-operative complications that a registered nurse will be on the lookout for.  

Top Post-Operative Complications


Surgical wounds are susceptible to infection. An RN ensures that wounds are properly cleaned, dressed, and monitored for signs of infection. This can include redness, swelling, tenderness, warmth, and any unusual or pus-like drainage. 

Timely intervention can prevent minor infections from becoming severe, and a registered nurse can ensure that the wound is monitored until the infection has gone away. 


Being more sedentary with reduced mobility after surgery can increase the risk of pneumonia. This can also be compounded by poor oral hygiene. 

With post-operative nursing care, an RN will encourage deep breathing exercises and early ambulation, along with good oral care, to reduce the likelihood of respiratory complications. By listening to the lungs, a registered nurse can also keep track and monitor the status of any respiratory concerns. 

Blood Clots

Prolonged immobility can lead to the formation of blood clots, posing a serious and potentially life-threatening risk. Depending on the type of surgery, blood thinners may be started right away, or sequential compression devices with or without compression socks may be utilized.

An RN will educate patients about the importance of movement and using devices to help prevent blood clots both in and out of the hospital. When home, a private duty nurse will be able to administer medications, typically injections, as prescribed to prevent clot formation.

Medication Errors

Managing medications can be overwhelming, especially post-surgery. Many people go home with an entirely new set of medicines, but the communication about these changes can be confusing. Hiring a nurse after surgery ensures that medications are taken as prescribed, minimizing the risk of adverse reactions and medication errors. 

A privately hired registered nurse will also typically go a few steps further and communicate any medication changes with the rest of the medical team to ensure they are appropriate and acceptable. 

How RNs Prevent or Address Complications with After-Surgery Home Care

Wound Care 

Proper wound care at home is essential for preventing infections. An RN cleans and dresses wounds meticulously, reducing the risk of contamination and promoting healing. They will also track the dimensions of the wounds to ensure that they are closing up properly. 

Monitoring Vital Signs

Regular monitoring of vital signs allows RNs to detect any deviations from the norm promptly. Each person has their own baseline “norm,” and a skilled in-home nurse will know to compare the changes to that person’s normal. 

Registered nurses are particularly looking for changes in blood pressure, heart rate, temperature, and respiratory rate. Early intervention can prevent complications from worsening.

Education & Support

Patient education is key to preventing complications. An RN educates patients about signs and symptoms to watch out for, empowering them to seek help if needed. 

The registered nurse will also co-create a plan of care for the person to ensure they are working toward their mutually planned goals. The nurse should be seen as a supportive coach for the person and their family. 

In-Home Medication Management

An RN helps patients understand their medications and monitors for any adverse reactions or interactions. They will also help circumvent problems with lack of access if the price is too high, or help with workarounds in case the pharmacy does not have the medication available. Additionally, nurses can help make recommendations for other medications if they feel like the current medication regimen is either not effective or inappropriate. 

While you may be wondering why you should want to hire a nurse after surgery, it is important to remember that hospital readmissions due to post-operative complications can incur significant financial and quality-of-life burdens. 

The presence of a registered nurse at home after surgery is invaluable. From preventing complications to providing personalized care and support, RNs play a pivotal role in facilitating smooth recoveries and improving patient outcomes.

Investing in after-surgery home care not only enhances the quality of life for patients and loved ones, but can also yield long-term cost savings by reducing hospital readmissions and associated healthcare expenses.

Ready to invest in a smoother recovery and reduced readmission risk? With expertise in more than 15 healthcare specialties, Navi Nurses’ network of private duty RNs in Phoenix are here to help. Visits are available on your schedule, often within hours, and we’ll strategically pair you with the right nurse for your specific recovery needs. 

Call us at (480) 482-1891 or reach out to our team. You’ll be heard by a medical professional right away.