Surgery takes its toll on you physically, emotionally and financially. Every patient wants to recover quickly and get back to his/her life with as few complications as possible. Although hospitals are taking steps to help patients recovery as easily and quickly as possible, there are things patients can do as well. How can you recover faster after surgery?
Enhanced Recovery After Surgery – ERAS
Many hospitals in the U.S. are adopting new post-op recovery processes, called Enhanced Recovery After Surgery (ERAS). These programs help speed healing with fewer complications. As a result, there is a reduction in patient pain levels and in the length of hospital stay.
How much of a difference can this program make?
A study on ERAS conducted at the University of Virginia on colorectal surgical patients was published in the Journal of the American College of Surgeons.
The study found that using ERAS procedures had significant positive results:
- 2 day reduction in length of hospital stays
- 17% decrease in complications
- 55% increase in patient satisfaction with their pain management
What are the key elements to this program?
The key elements of ERAS programs, designed to help patients recover more quickly after surgery, include:
Encourage More Fluids
The ERAS recommendations allow patients to eat up to 6 hours before surgery, and drink liquids with electrolytes and carbohydrates up to 2 hours before surgery. In contrast, the traditional recommendation for patients did not allow food or liquids of any kind after midnight the night before an operation. This relaxation of food and liquid limitations gives patients energy through nutrition which helps the body recover.
Premedicate with Non-Narcotics
Providing narcotics after surgery can complicate recovery by causing dizziness and slowing bowel function. Additionally, narcotics are highly addictive, as we have seen in the growing nation’s opioid addiction crisis. The ERAS recommendations include giving the patient pain medications before surgery and using a non-narcotic pain medication, given directly to the surgical site by catheter, after surgery.
ERAS recommendations state patients should get out of bed within 24 hours of surgery, since walking helps patients use their lungs, which can reduce the risk of pneumonia. Walking can also reduce the need for pain medication and improve bowel function.
What can you do before surgery?
Since these programs help patients recover faster, ask your surgeon if your hospital has adopted ERAS procedures. If your hospital and/or surgeon does not follow these guidelines, you can still help yourself recover more easily by following the 3 steps outline above.
For more information on reducing the risk of surgical complications and harm, read these blog posts:
- Questions to Ask Before Surgery.
- Questions Seniors Should Ask Before Surgery.
- You Can Improve Your Surgical Outcome.
- Surgical Dangers – What You Need to Know.
- What is the Best Time of Day for Medical Care?
- Is it Safe to Have Surgery in a Surgery Center?
- How Safe are Surgery Centers?