Dietitian Blog, MNT Guidelines | Jun 15 2020

Part 3: Boosting patient outcomes | Enhanced Recovery After Surgery series

ERAS blog, Dietitians On Demand, nationwide

With the successful implementation of an Enhanced Recovery After Surgery (ERAS) protocol, you can expect to see dramatic improvements in patient outcomes. The benefits are varied and range from reduced post-op complications and shorter lengths of stay to cost savings and higher patient satisfaction. If you’re still wondering why you should implement ERAS at your facility, look no further. It’s all here.

Reduced post-op complications

ERAS is designed to facilitate faster and better post-op recovery. In simple terms, patients just do better with ERAS. A study completed in New Zealand with colorectal surgery patients demonstrated significant reductions in post-op ileus, urinary tract infections, and cardiopulmonary complications. These patients also had a faster return of bowel function, as defined as the passage of flatus. Likewise, a 2015 study completed at the University of Virginia Health System observed better post-op pain control and reduced incidence of surgical site infections with the ERAS protocol.

Shorter lengths of stay

A reduction in hospital length of stay is a well-documented perk of ERAS that was observed in both of the aforementioned studies. The New Zealand facility successfully reduced mean hospital length of stay by four days, while the University of Virginia saw a reduction of 2.3 days. A shorter hospital stay can reduce costs, increase revenues, and reduce the incidence of hospital-acquired conditions and complications.

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Cost savings

Speaking of cost savings, ERAS has got it going on! Like any quality improvement program, there are costs to implement and maintain ERAS. However, so many of the components of ERAS contribute to cost savings, including the reduction of complications, shorter lengths of stay, and the reduction of IV fluids and narcotics administered. Cost savings have been estimated as high as $4,500* per patient.

Higher patient satisfaction

If the improvement in clinical outcomes and cost savings doesn’t convince you, how about having happier patients who are more likely to recommend your facility? After implementing ERAS, the University of Virginia enjoyed a rise in their patient satisfaction scores with regard to readiness for discharge, pain control, and willingness to recommend the hospital.

There is no doubt healthcare is changing. Value-Based Purchasing, a component of the Affordable Care Act, redistributes a portion of healthcare reimbursement to the highest-performing hospitals. ERAS can boost your hospital’s performance, not only in the clinical realm, but in patient satisfaction as well. If you would like to read more about ERAS, including viewing real protocols from top-performing hospitals, visit

*Converted from New Zealand Dollars.

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Sammour T, Zargar-Shashtari K, Bhat A, Kahokehr A, Hill A. A programme of Enhanced Recovery After Surgery (ERAS) is a cost-effective intervention in elective colonic surgery. The New Zealand Medical Journal. 2010;123(1319):61-70.
Thiele RH, Rea KM, Turrentine FE, Friel CM, Hassinger TE,Goudreau BJ, et al. Standardization of Care: Impact of an Enhanced Recovery Protocol on Length of Stay, Complications, and Direct Costs after Colorectal Surgery. J Am Coll Surg. 2015;220:430-443.
Sara Glanz, registered dietitian

About Sara Glanz

Sara Glanz, MS, RD, LD, CNSC worked as a traveling dietitian for Dietitians On Demand for two years before joining the corporate team. In her current role as Director of Clinical Education, she has championed the continuing education program to empower dietitians everywhere to achieve their professional goals.

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