Grove Miller

Grover Miller said he saw a substantial difference after his surgery due to participation in the ERAS program at MUSC Health-Florence Medical Center.

FLORENCE, S.C. — MUSC Health-Florence Medical Center has launched a program to help patients recover and heal faster after surgery.

The Enhanced Recovery After Surgery (ERAS) program at MUSC Health-Florence Medical Center is an effort to improve patient outcomes. This includes reducing the length of hospital stay and the risk of post-surgery complications.

The program is based on best practices designed to regiment some aspects of surgical care. To date, the ERAS program has enrolled more than 58 surgery cases, varying from colorectal to mastectomies to total joints, since its inception in January of 2019.

“Incorporating the ERAS protocol on colorectal, total joint, and many other surgeries has improved not only the patients’ outcomes but also reduced their use of narcotics after surgery,” said Elizabeth A. Lee, BSN, RN, MSN, ERAS coordinator for MUSC Health-Florence Medical Center. “It has shown to be beneficial to our patients. I am continuously researching evidence-based-practice studies to incorporate with our ERAS patients. Having this protocol in use has really been beneficial to our hospital but most importantly to our patients.”

Grover Miller, 73, of Pamplico, has had his share of surgeries throughout his life, including gall bladder and appendix surgery. Last summer he underwent colorectal surgery at MUSC Health-Florence Medical Center and participated in the ERAS program.

“I’ve had other surgeries in the past, but this time was different,” Miller said. “This time I noticed a big difference in my recovery. I felt like the program helped me recover faster. I didn’t even have to take any prescription painkillers.”

Lee said Miller’s surgery takes about three to five days to recover from before being sent home. In Miller’s case, he was leaving MUSC in only two days.

All patients receive preoperative education, including the plan for how postoperative pain will be managed and about their postoperative diet.

“ERAS is great for our patients because it will speed up their recovery and shorten their hospital stay,” said Dr. Mark Park, MUSC Health-Florence Medical Center chief of surgery.

ERAS patients receive dietary supplements to boost protein and aid in healing. Also, instead of conventional fasting prior to surgery, patients are able to drink clear liquids up to two hours prior to surgery and drink a carbohydrate drink as well.

Other main components of the ERAS program include a standardized pain-management plan and standardized discharge instructions after surgery.

“Statistics have shown the ERAS protocol has reduced potential surgical site infections, narcotic usage and improved patient quality of care during their hospital stay,” said Melissa Demars, a registered nurse and director of surgical services. “We are excited to see how the statistics improve going forward.”

Clinical staff members have documented dramatic improvements in colorectal surgery quality outcomes, including a two-day reduction in length of stay, down from approximately six days pre-ERAS to four days and some as early as three days post-surgery.

Other benefits seen by patients in the program include reduced risk of surgical site infections and reduced readmission rates. The program aims to reduce opioid intake by using other non-opioid pain-management strategies.

Since January of 2019, the care team at MUSC Health-Florence Medical Center has seen an 80% reduction of postoperative opioid use, and if opioids are being given, it is for intense breakthrough pain only.

Clinical care team members have worked together as one coordinated, unified team to ensure that all providers, patients and families understand how to attain the best possible outcome after surgery. MUSC Health-Florence’s goal is to help patients experience the best possible outcome after surgery by enhancing each patient’s health so they can return home as quickly as possible.

For more information about the Enhanced Recovery After Surgery (ERAS) program at MUSC Health-Florence Medical Center, call Elizabeth Lee at 843-674-1323, or email her at leeeliz@musc.edu.

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