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The benefits of enhanced recovery

Last Modified: June 14, 2022

Family Medicine


Linda Han, MD, Chief Surgery Quality Officer, Parkview Health, helps explain the Enhanced Recovery After Surgery (ERAS) protocol and how this perioperative care program can help achieve early recovery for patients undergoing major surgery.

What is Enhanced Recovery After Surgery (ERAS)?

The Enhanced Recovery After Surgery (ERAS) program is an evidence-based program with standardized pathways for each phase of care (before, during and after surgery). Research has shown that following an ERAS program will decrease the time it takes to recover and reduce complications such as pain, nausea and vomiting after surgery.

How does the ERAS protocol work?

ERAS is a program that involves multiple disciplines before, during and after surgery to minimize complications and improve rapid recovery. These include nurses, surgeons, primary care physicians (and other specialists), anesthesiologists, operating room teams, pain management experts, nutritionists and physical therapists. The goal is to have surgical patients resume their normal activities more rapidly. This process begins before surgery to optimize health conditions and actively engage patients in surgical care and recovery.

Additionally, patients can also take an active role in preparing for their surgery and recovery by remembering ERAS HEALS:

  • Enhanced
  • Recovery
  • After
  • Surgery
  • Healthy habits and hand washing: Take steps to plan and prepare for surgery
  • Education and empowerment: Learn what you can do to help recover quicker
  • Activity and appetite: Stay active and eat healthy before and after surgery
  • Lungs: Deep breathing before and after surgery to help prevent complications
  • Skincare: Help reduce the risk of infection with skincare before and after surgery
What types of surgeries utilize ERAS?

This protocol can benefit patients undergoing various types of surgery, including cardiac, major abdominal (non-cancer related), and cancer-related surgeries (abdominal, gynecology oncology, breast, neck, lung and urology).

How does ERAS benefit the patient?

There are many benefits to the patient when employing the ERAS pathway, including:

  • Reduced surgical complications (infection/poor wound healing)
  • Decreased length of hospital stays
  • Less opioid use and risk of addiction
  • Improved patient satisfaction
  • Quicker return to normal activities
  • Improved quality of life
Who is a good candidate for ERAS?

ERAS is for any patient undergoing major surgery or who might be at higher risk of complications from surgery.

How is ERAS being implemented across Parkview?

ERAS is standard practice across most surgical specialties. For elective surgeries, our Center for Perioperative Optimization program screens patients for any individual and surgery risks and then implements the protocol.

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