Is enhanced recovery enough for reducing 30-d readmissions after surgery?

J Surg Res. 2017 Sep:217:45-53. doi: 10.1016/j.jss.2017.04.007. Epub 2017 Apr 22.


Background: Few enhanced recovery pathways (ERPs) include processes related to the hospital to home transfer. Little has been reported regarding readmissions in enhanced recovery programs. This study evaluates readmissions and identifies areas to optimize ERPs to prevent readmissions.

Methods: We conducted an observational, retrospective study at a single tertiary care center. Patients in an ERP for colorectal surgery were compared with a similar cohort who underwent surgery before protocol implementation. We evaluated 30-d readmission, compliance to enhanced recovery protocol, and diagnoses and patient care experiences related to transition of care.

Results: Readmission rates (17.6% versus 19.4%; P = 0.55) were similar. There was significant reduction in index hospitalization length of stay (5.3 versus 7.0 d; P < 0.001) and postoperative surgical site infection (7.3% versus 16.6%; P = 0.01). Although enhanced recovery was associated with reduced readmissions for surgical site infections (31% versus 50.7%, P = 0.02), there was a trend toward increased readmissions for small bowel obstruction-ileus (31% versus 19.1%, P = 0.13). ERPs did not impact perceptions of care transitions; however, those who were readmitted rated their transition lower than those that were not.

Conclusions: Although ERPs did not reduce readmissions, the program was associated with reduced length of stay and surgical site infections. ERPs did not influence perceptions of the transition to home. Transition process measures aimed at reducing readmission and improving patient outcomes, including use of transition guides, remote vital sign and symptom monitoring, and early clinical follow-up have not traditionally been part of ERP protocols but should be considered.

Keywords: Discharge; ERAS; Enhanced recovery; Readmission; Transition of care.

Publication types

  • Observational Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Colorectal Surgery / rehabilitation*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Readmission / statistics & numerical data*
  • Perioperative Care / methods
  • Perioperative Care / standards
  • Perioperative Care / statistics & numerical data*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Young Adult