BOLIVIA, N.C. – Novant Health Brunswick Medical Center recently started offering a new service for patients who have undergone colorectal surgery. Enhanced Recovery After Surgery (ERAS) follows evidence-based practices to help patients prepare for their procedure and provide a smooth recovery.
"Our main goal with ERAS is to partner with patients in their own care,” said Dr. Richard Scallion, Novant Health Surgical Associates. “This includes extensive education prior to surgery where patients are given instructions on what they need to do before surgery in order to improve recovery after surgery.”
ERAS offers a quicker recovery, which means less time spent in the hospital. The education includes information about what to expect from a pain management perspective, as well as expectations for activity levels after surgery.
A patient’s care team uses multiple methods to decrease and help control pain post-surgery, reducing the need for narcotic pain medications. Narcotics have been shown to delay bowel recovery and potentially increase nausea and lethargy. As a general rule, the more narcotic pain medications used, the longer the hospital stay. Patients are also encouraged to return to activity soon after surgery, including sitting up and taking short walks around the hospital.
The first ERAS patient, Christina Simmons, had surgery in late April to address diverticulitis, an inflammation or infection within the digestive tract that can cause severe abdominal pain, fever, nausea and a significant change in bowel habits. Simmons said the educational component of the program helped ease her nerves prior to surgery.
“Dr. Scallion made me feel really comfortable about the procedure and educated me about lifestyle changes I could make after my procedure,” Simmons said. “After my surgery, I was able to get up and walk around, went home after three days and didn’t need to fill my prescription for narcotics when I was discharged.”
The implementation of ERAS is another way Novant Health is diligently working to combat the nationwide epidemic of opioid use disorder and dependency. This includes appropriately prescribing opioids for pain management while also optimizing alternative therapies.