Multivitamin Use in Enhanced Recovery After Surgery Protocols: A Cost Analysis

Mil Med. 2021 Aug 28;186(9-10):e1024-e1028. doi: 10.1093/milmed/usaa505.


Introduction: Enhanced Recovery After Surgery (ERAS) protocols have shown significant benefits in multiple areas including early mobilization, improved pain control, and early oral intake. Deficient nutritional states may compromise the operative outcomes. Several essential vitamins, e.g., B12, C, D, and E, have demonstrated anti-inflammatory properties and may promote wound healing. Given the low risk of oral multivitamin supplementation and the potential benefits, we hypothesized that adding a multivitamin to our institution's ERAS protocols would be a low-cost perioperative intervention accounting for a very small fraction of the annual pharmacy budget.

Methods: A cost analysis for vitamin supplementation for all adult orthopedic surgical cases for the fiscal year 2018 was conducted. To assess the potential cost for multivitamin supplementation in the perioperative period, the fiscal year 2018 pharmacy budget and current costs of multivitamins were obtained from the hospital pharmacy. Medication costs were obtained from the medical logistics ordering system at per unit (i.e., bottle) and per tablet levels for all formulary oral multivitamins. We also determined the number of adult orthopedic surgical cases for our facility in the fiscal year 2018 from our surgery scheduling system. The cost for supplementation for a single day (day of surgery), 1 week (first postoperative week), 6 weeks plus 1 week preop, and 6 months plus 1 week preop for all cases was then calculated.

Results: Our institution's pharmacy budget for the fiscal year 2018 was $123 million dollars with two oral multivitamins on formulary. Prenatal tablets, containing vitamins A-E, calcium, iron, and zinc, cost $1.52 per bottle of 100 tablets and $0.0152 per tablet, while renal formulation tablets, containing water-soluble vitamins B and C, cost $2.79 per bottle of 100 tablets and $0.0279 per tablet. For one fiscal year, the medication cost to supplement every adult orthopedic surgery patient with an oral multivitamin for 1 day, 1 week, 6 weeks plus 1 week preop, and 6 months plus 1 week preop would range from $60.47 to $110.99, from $423.29 to $776.93, from $2,963.03 to $5,438.51, and from $10,582.25 to $19,423.25, respectively, depending on which multivitamin was prescribed. These costs would represent between 0.00005% and 0.00009% of the annual pharmacy budget for 1 day, between 0.0003% and 0.0006% for 1 week, between 0.00245% and 0.441% for 6 weeks plus 1 week preop, and between 0.00875% and 1.575% for 6 months plus 1 week preop, respectively.

Discussion/conclusions: The relative nutrient-deficient state in the perioperative patient from decreased oral intake contributes to the metabolic derangements resulting from the surgery. The current ERAS protocols help to mitigate this with early feeding, and the addition of multivitamin supplementation may enhance this process. Multivitamins are safe, widely accessible, and inexpensive, and early investigations of pain control and healing have shown encouraging results. Further prospective studies are needed for incorporating multivitamins into ERAS protocols in order to elucidate the effective dosages, duration of treatment, and effect on outcomes.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Costs and Cost Analysis
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Enhanced Recovery After Surgery*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Iron
  • Pregnancy
  • Vitamins / therapeutic use


  • Vitamins
  • Iron