EMPOWERING PATIENTS TO
Surgery patients take the reins in their recovery
Surgery can be a time of uncertainty for many patients and their families. But
what if surgical patients were empowered to take control of their care? What
if they were given the tools to prepare for surgery in a way shown to optimize
outcomes? At Winchester Medical Center (WMC), they are.
That’s because WMC is committed to Enhanced Recovery After Surgery,
or ERAS, a set of science-backed guidelines to help patients heal quickly. A
smooth recovery depends on several factors: the expertise of the care team,
the technology used, and—of key importance—the patient’s participation in
the process. In fact, research shows that patients who play an active role in
their own recovery tend to have fewer complications and can shorten their
recovery time by up to 50 percent.
The intent of ERAS is to help patients understand what to expect and to
empower them to help speed their own recovery. “Our goal is to enhance
recovery for every patient who’s having surgery,” says surgical oncologist and
ERAS champion Devin Flaherty, DO, PhD.
The ERAS treatment plan combines a number of small actions on the part
of patients and their care team to make a big impact on surgical outcomes
and recovery times. Patients are encouraged to take steps before and after
surgery. In fact, some advice might even surprise them.
• Optimize nutrition prior to surgery.
• Stop smoking at least three weeks
• Have blood sugar under control if diabetic.
• Review all medications with your physician.
• Drink a provided carbohydrate drink on
the morning of surgery.
• Use non-narcotic pain control.
• Get out of bed and walk soon after surgery.
• Drink fluids and eat dinner the night of
• Chew gum three times daily to keep
• Get enough sleep to recover quickly.
“It’s not like the old days, where you stayed in bed
for a week after surgery,” Dr. Flaherty says. “There’s
now evidence to support getting patients up and moving
quicker. That helps prevent clots and back pain
and also helps general mobility.”
The guidelines also call for minimizing the use of
narcotics for pain, which can be addictive and extend
hospital stays. Instead, the healthcare team prefers to
use nonopioid pain relievers. IV fluids are also minimized
to restore bowel function sooner after surgery.
The use of standardized practices before, during and
after surgery drives consistent quality and ensures that
patients receive the best evidence-based care available,
with fewer complications and shorter hospital stays.
While it’s easy to think of ERAS as a rigid set of
rules, Dr. Flaherty explains that it’s better understood
as a philosophy of care that puts the patient at the
center and seeks to maximize the cumulative benefit
of small actions. “All of the little things, when combined,
make a big difference,” says Dr. Flaherty. “For
every patient we treat we’re always asking, how can we
enhance recovery with every little thing we do?”
→ Visit valleyhealthlink.com/ERAS to learn more.
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