What is ERAS®…and Why Does it Matter for a Better Surgery Experience?

What is ERAS®…and Why Does it Matter for a Better Surgery Experience?

So you’ve made it to our surgery blog—welcome!—but you still might be wondering: what is ERAS® and, more importantly, what in the world does it have to do with surgery? Not to fear—today we’re breaking down all you need to know about this medical acronym. Read on for a common-sense breakdown of the ERAS® program and why following it will have you waking up from surgery like an absolute champ (you go!).

Ok, so what is ERAS?

Let’s start with the basics: ERAS® stands for Enhanced Recovery After Surgery. According to the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists, “Enhanced Recovery after Surgery (ERAS) refers to patient-centered, evidence-based, multidisciplinary team developed pathways for a surgical specialty and facility culture to reduce the patient’s surgical stress response, optimize their physiologic function, and facilitate recovery.”

Whew—let’s simplify that a little shall we? Essentially, ERAS programs are all about implementing different practices (or “pathways”) to ensure your surgery recovery is the best it can be (faster, easier and healthier). These programs are comprised of 17 key elements for your doctors to follow—like pre-admission counseling for patients, the use of short-acting anaesthetic agents, and fluid-fasting with the right preop drink in place of a complete “from-midnight” fast—which, when combined, work to ensure better surgical outcomes and enhance your recovery after surgery.

In short, ERAS are all about YOU, the patient, and making sure your surgical experience and recovery are the best they can be.

Where did ERAS come from and who’s using it?

ERAS® Programs are borrowed from the UK and are becoming increasingly popular in luminary hospitals across the United States. Medical professionals around the world are implementing ERAS® programs in their practices, because they realize this evidenced-based program leads to safer surgeries with better outcomes, shorter hospital stays and increased patient satisfaction overall.

It’s a win-win situation: a healthier patient recovers faster, leaves the hospital faster, and is more satisfied with their surgery experience—this leads to money saved for both the hospital and the patient.

The thought process behind ERAS: Treating surgery like a marathon.

Most people don’t realize how taxing surgery is on the human body. Even if the surgery itself is relatively minor or short, the act of undergoing anesthesia alone is super stressful on our bodies. Because of this, the entire idea behind ERAS® is to better prep our bodies and our minds for that stressful experience (rather than the old-school train of thought which asks you to prepare by eating nothing after midnight, and gives you no other useful information for how to prepare yourself to undergo surgery in a strong state of health).

Think of surgery like a major athletic event (a marathon or triathlon, for example). You wouldn’t walk into a marathon having fasted from midnight the night prior and without having spent some serious time beforehand preparing your body. Surgery should be no different. ERAS® programs works to arm patients with the knowledge and tools they need to get healthy before surgery (just like you’d get healthy before a marathon or athletic event). This includes protocols like:

  • Exercising
  • Losing weight if needed
  • Quitting smoking
  • Avoiding alcohol
  • Making healthy eating choices
  • Replace “from-midnight” fasting with a clear, complex-carb beverage instead

Overall, the idea of ERAS is this: the stronger you are going into surgery, the easier (and quicker!) your body will recover upon waking up from surgery.