Enhanced recovery pathways (ERPs) are standardized, multidisciplinary approaches to caring for patients with a goal of decreasing length of stay and care costs without negatively affecting patient outcomes. One facility successfully implemented ERPs for patients undergoing abdominal surgery. For implementation to be successful, nurses were found to be key in providing education, perioperative care, and postoperative evaluation, as well as cost containment. The implementation team collaborated to define, design, implement, and audit an ERP for surgical services. Initial audits demonstrated an increase in compliance with order set use (61% to 93%) and use of ERPs more than standardized order sets (< 1% to 27%), as well as decreased use of daily laboratory orders (94% to 62%) and elimination of automatically ordered laboratory tests (38% to 0%). These results led to the conclusion that the nurse's role is essential for education and successful use of the pathways and that best practices for developing ERPs requires consistency across the care team, diligence to ensure compliance, and use of an audit tool for quality improvement.
Keywords: ERP; care pathway; colorectal surgery; enhanced recovery; patient education.
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