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Faster recovery for Bay of Plenty bowel surgery patients

25 January 2013

Faster recovery for Bay of Plenty bowel surgery patients

Tauranga Hospital has seen the speed in which patients recover from bowel surgery improve dramatically since the introduction of a revolutionary new programme.

The Enhanced Recovery After Surgery (ERAS) programme was introduced to the hospital in September of last year, and has entirely changed the experience of bowel surgery for Bay of Plenty patients.

“ERAS was designed in Denmark,” said Wendy Carey, Project Manager of Surgical Services at Tauranga Hospital. “It involves a shift in traditional practices and covers all aspects of the patient’s journey through the surgical process – from preventing the patients from being hungry and thirsty before surgery, to managing their pain and nausea so that they are able to start eating, drinking and walking soon after their operation takes place.”

Tauranga and Whakatane Hospital combined performed 188 bowel operations in the last year, 98 of which were elective. “Thirty-four patients have received small bowel or colon surgery under the new ERAS programme since it started,” said Mrs Carey.

The use of ERAS has been shown to enable a quicker recovery, and reduce post-operative complications. “It has been shown in hospitals all over the world to reduce average hospital stay from 8-12 days to 4-7 days,” said Dr Mark Omundsen, Colorectal Surgeon at Tauranga Hospital. “It also reduces complication rates and increases patient satisfaction with their hospital care.”

“I was out of bed and walking around the day after my operation,” said a bowel surgery patient who wishes only to be known as Penny. “I was surprised that I was able to eat and drink straight afterwards, and by how quickly my pain was under control.”

ERAS requires the patient to play an active role in their own recovery. “I went to pre-admission clinics to find out exactly what was going to be involved, and met with a nurse, anaesthetist and other specialised staff,” said Penny. “I was really mentally prepared before I went in for my operation. The staff explained things to me so well that it took away any anxiety that I may have had.”

Patients receive a diary to fill in each day to record their recovery and progress after surgery, “By three weeks I already had most of my energy back and was back to doing normal everyday things.”

Penny’s sister received bowel surgery before the introduction of ERAS, and according to Penny her sister’s recovery was more painful and much slower, “There has been such a difference in both of our journeys.”

“The Colorectal Surgeons here at Tauranga Hospital are very enthusiastic about the ERAS initiative and are committed to ensuring its success,” said Mr Omundsen. “We will continue to work hard to provide a high standard of care to Bay of Plenty residents.”


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