Enhanced Recovery program significantly reduces post-op opioid use

An Enhanced Recovery After Surgery protocol for elective spine and peripheral nerve surgery decreases opioid use and the length of hospital stays.

The majority of patients who followed an Enhanced Recovery After Surgery (ERAS) protocol did not need opioids for pain management at multiple time points following elective spinal and peripheral nerve surgery. The findings come from an expanded analysis and study from researchers in the Perelman School of Medicine, published in Pain Medicine. Researchers found that when an ERAS protocol was employed—which optimizes patients’ surgical care before, during, and after surgery—fewer patients needed pain medications at one, three, and six months after surgery.

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The ERAS protocol developed at Penn includes a personalized, safe, and effective pain management plan to help prevent opioid addiction, which is an ongoing public health crisis in the United States. ERAS engages patients in their care before, during, and after their hospitalization—this process includes patient education, text reminders, nutrition information, early mobilization, and recovery plans. ERAS also relies on collaborative care between all individuals involved in the patient’s surgical journey, including anesthesiologists, rehabilitation therapists, nurses, and neurosurgeons, to improve clinical outcomes and optimize a safe recovery.

“We know from our clinical experience and previous literature that programs like ERAS work, but we didn’t expect the impact on opioid use to be so sizeable,” says senior author Zarina S. Ali, assistant professor of neurosurgery at Penn. “The most important outcome from this study is the decrease in opioid use. Furthermore, patients following the ERAS protocol reported less opioid use without higher pain scores. This represents an important advance in the context of the current nationwide opioid epidemic.”

Read more at Penn Medicine News.