26 September 2023

New hospital program sends patients home sooner

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A Canberra Health Services (CHS) program to reduce patients’ recovery time after elective surgery is showing positive results after its first year of operation.

Program Coordinator at CHS, Kimberly McNeice said patients who took part in the Enhanced Recovery After Surgery (ERAS) had returned home closer to their predicted discharge date.

“The program has helped 595 patients in three key surgical areas: colorectal surgery, elective caesarean birth and hysterectomy,” Ms McNeice said.

“Ultimately, ERAS helps patients recover faster from surgery with fewer complications,” she said.

“Patients feel better prepared and this helps reduce their stress levels before and after surgery.”

Ms McNeice said the ERAS team now ran a dedicated pre-admission clinic to screen, educate and prepare patients for their individual surgery.

The Program Coordinator said there had been some amazing improvements since ERAS launched, including a fall in the ICU admission rate from 29 per cent to 12 per cent; a drop in medical complications from 31 per cent to 22 per cent; and a decrease in patients’ hospital stays of 14 days or longer from 20 per cent to six per cent.

“[ERAS] is run by a multi-disciplinary team that encourages patients to play an active role in their recovery through preparation for surgery and daily goals to aim for post-surgery,” she said.

“This team includes Program Co-lead Dr Andrew Deacon, nursing staff, anaesthetists, dietitian, physiotherapists and other practitioners such as social workers, speech therapists and exercise physiologists – depending on the situation.”

Ms McNeice said the program would be expanded this year to include breast reconstruction, some head and neck surgeries, and lung surgeries.

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