NEW YORK (FRONTLINE MEDICAL NEWS) – Prior to October 2014, urology patients undergoing radical cystectomy at a 950-bed, tertiary care hospital experienced postoperative morbidity at a relative high rate, according to NSQIP data.

“Despite improvements in surgical techniques and perioperative care protocols, the rate of the overall morbidity for radical cystectomy was higher than we would like to see,” said Tracey Hong, RN, BScN, of the Clinical Quality and Patient Safety Department at Vancouver (B.C.) General Hospital. “We took this as an opportunity to improve our patient outcomes and experience.”

Vancouver General joined the American College of Surgeons National Surgical Improvement Quality Program (ACS NSQIP) in 2011. The enhanced recovery after surgery (ERAS) perioperative protocol the institution adopted in late 2014 was associated with a 32% decrease in overall morbidity. The rate dropped from 31.3% in the pre-ERAS study period from May 2011 to September 2014, to 21.1% after implementation, from October 2014 to September 2016, according to a study Ms. Hong presented at the American College of Surgeons Quality and Safety Conference.

The investigators compared outcomes between all 92 people undergoing elective radical cystectomy during the first time period to 152 consecutive patients treated under the ERAS protocol. Median length of stay decreased from 8 days before ERAS to 7 days after, a significant difference (P less than .05).

The researchers also assessed outcomes based on how adherent clinicians were to 12 key elements of the 26-item ERAS initiative. These elements included preoperative counseling, preoperative anesthesia consultation, and carbohydrate loading on the morning of surgery. Intraoperatively, they tracked normothermia, use of multimodal anesthesia, use of goal-directed fluid therapy using a monitor, timely antibiotics, and adequate postoperative nausea and vomiting prophylaxis. The four postoperative key measures were mobilization at least once by postoperative day 0, full fluids and mobilization twice on postoperative day 1, and starting solid food by postoperative day 4.

A total 52% of the ERAS cases were associated with 75% or greater adherence to these 12 key items. Adherence with the intraoperative fluid therapy and all the postoperative elements proved to be the most challenging, Ms. Hong said.

The more adherent cases experienced a lower overall postoperative morbidity rate, 15.2%, compared with 27.4% among the less adherent group. The 15.2% morbidity among the more adherent cases also compared favorably with the 31.1% rate for cases prior to ERAS adoption.

“We will continue working on improving compliance,” Ms. Hong said. “We need to increase adherence to goal-directed fluid therapy and the postoperative components,” Ms. Hong said.

Three main strategies remain essential to the ongoing success of the ERAS program, Ms. Hong said. Empowering patients to be active participants and to engage in their own health outcomes is one. “Second, we involve a multidisciplinary team at an early stage so they take ownership and get engaged in the program,” she said. “Last but not least, we continue to measure the outcomes in 100% of cases.”

Continuous auditing and sharing results with the team on a regular basis will be necessary to maintain engagement in the ERAS protocol going forward, Ms. Hong added. “Tenacity is vital.”

Ms. Hong had no relevant financial disclosures.


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