Close Menu

On average, more than 115 Americans die each day from an opioid overdose, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). While not all of these overdoses involved prescription drugs, the CDC found that 40 percent of all fatal opioid overdoses in 2016 involved a prescription opiate medication.

St. David’s HealthCare recently launched a new program intended to help reduce patients’ risk of drug dependence and hasten the recovery process after surgery. The program, Enhanced Surgical Recovery (ESR), is a research-based, multidisciplinary approach aimed at improving the postoperative recovery experience.

The program is designed to steer medical professionals away from prescribing opioids for postoperative pain management by putting the focus on other areas of treatment, such as hydration and nutrition, patient education and the use of various types of drugs to manage pain, rather than relying strictly on opiate medications.

The program is made up of five evidence-based components—patient education, enhanced nutritional supplementation, multimodal pain control, tighter fluid management and early mobilization. Doctors at St. David’s HealthCare’s acute care facilities are utilizing the ESR program for a variety of different surgeries ranging from hip replacements to gynecologic oncology procedures.

“In the past, having patients fast before surgery and prescribing narcotics for pain management after surgery were considered the standard of care,” Dr. Loar, director of gynecological oncology at St. David’s North Austin Medical Center, said. “However, what we found was that a lot of these practices were doing more harm than good.”

With ESR, some patients can even walk from the operating table to the hospital room after surgery. Research shows that the longer patients lie in bed, the higher their risk of developing pneumonia, blood clots and complications.

“We’ve seen significant improvements in patient outcomes and patient satisfaction since launching this program,” Dr. Ken Mitchell, senior vice president and chief medical officer of St. David’s HealthCare, said. “Anecdotally, patients seem to feel more engaged and involved in their recovery.”

The program is currently being offered to select surgical patients, and St. David’s HealthCare plans to employ the strategy in other areas as well.

KVUE interviewed Dr. Paul Loar, medical director of gynecological oncology at St. David’s North Austin Medical Center, about the ESR program.

Dr. Erick Allen, an anesthesiologist at St. David’s Medical Center, also spoke with KXAN and Spectrum News about the benefits of ESR.

Learn more about the multidisciplinary program from Patch.

Receive email notifications for new posts.