Under traditional perioperative care, patients who experience pain, stress, immobilization, and postoperative constipation can remain in the hospital for 10 days or more, with complication rates of up to 48 percent. Such complications can be expensive, estimated at an average of $10,000.
Enhanced recovery after surgery (ERAS), which has gained favor in Europe but has not been widely used in the United States, aims to standardize perioperative care using procedures backed by scientific evidence that demonstrate their benefits.
In the Duke study, patients in the ERAS group were educated about what they should expect. Routine bowel preparation was not performed, and patients were allowed to drink clear fluids until 3 hours before their surgeries, notably a sports drink.
All of the ERAS patients received an epidural as well as non-opioid painkillers to reduce opioid side effects such as nausea, vomiting, constipation, urinary retention and drowsiness. They then underwent general anesthesia. After surgery, the patients transitioned to oral acetaminophen or other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, plus oral opioids, if necessary, after about 72 hours. Patients were also encouraged to drink liquids and get out of bed on the day of surgery, and for at least six hours every subsequent day.
"We have shown that providing care within an ERAS pathway, we are increasing the quality of care for patients while at the same time reducing complications and medical costs," said co-author Timothy Miller, assistant professor of anesthesiology at Duke. "I believe that going forward, enhanced recovery care could become the new standard for best practice."
Gan said the researchers saved costs for about 85 percent of the ERAS patients, at about $2,000 per patient. He said the ERAS approach could be used for numerous surgeries; it has been expanded at Duke University Hospital to include bladder, p
|Contact: Sarah Avery|
Duke University Medical Center