The past, present and future of the postanesthesia care unit (PACU) in Japan

J Anesth. 2017 Aug;31(4):601-607. doi: 10.1007/s00540-017-2341-3. Epub 2017 Mar 30.


The postanesthesia care unit (PACU), which is run and coordinated by anesthesiologists, delivers general medical supervision as well as close and constant care to patients who have just undergone a surgical procedure under anesthesia. Although PACU management has been considered a standard procedure in many developed countries since the 1940s, Japanese hospitals have tended to cease their management, and only 16.1% of hospitals in Japan currently have PACUs. In today's efficiency-required atmosphere in Japan, we need to consider a better postoperative management method, including facilities similar to the PACU, to prevent serious adverse events and improve the postoperative outcomes and quality of life. Nevertheless, the way postoperative patients are treated and cared for, and the location in which they receive such attention, will likely need to be modified to fit the Japanese style due to Japan's unique medical systems and traditions. Here, we describe the past, present and future of the PACU and postanesthesia care in Japan compared with other countries.

Keywords: Operating room efficiency; Patient safety; Postoperative recovery unit; Recovery room; Serious adverse event (SAE).

MeSH terms

  • Anesthesia / adverse effects
  • Anesthesia / methods*
  • Anesthesia Recovery Period*
  • Humans
  • Japan
  • Quality of Life*
  • Recovery Room