Healthcare News & Insights

New program designed to improve patient outcomes after surgery

Improving patient outcomes after surgery is a challenge for many hospitals. A new safety initiative, headed by the American College of Surgeons and the Johns Hopkins Institute for Patient Safety, plans to help hundreds of hospitals boost the quality of their post-surgery care. 

According to a news release from the American College of Surgeons, the multimillion-dollar program was funded by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).

The program uses Enhanced Recovery After Surgery (ERAS) protocols, which are clinical pathways designed to keep patients’ health stable immediately following surgery. ERAS protocols include tactics to reduce the body’s stress response to surgery and preserve organ function, such as avoiding long fasting times and using opiate-free methods of controlling pain.

Per a second news release from Johns Hopkins, ERAS strategies are used throughout the care process, from scheduling the operation to after the patient’s been discharged.

Principles in practice

In 2013, Johns Hopkins implemented its own ERAS program, integrating these principles into its Comprehensive Unit-Based Safety Program (CUSP) designed to engage clinical staff in patient safety improvements.

Specifically, Johns Hopkins focused on using its ERAS and CUSP hybrid initiative to improve outcomes for patients who had colorectal surgery. And it had excellent results – the program reduced the length of stay for these patients by one and a half days, lowered costs of each surgery by $1,500 and reduced complication rates. Most notably, surgical-site infections were cut in half.

Now the facility wants to share this success with other hospitals. Using the grant from AHRQ, Johns Hopkins and the American College of Surgeons hope to work with 750 hospitals across the country to improve surgery outcomes.

Participating hospitals will learn strategies to standardize care for patients set to undergo colorectal surgery, as well as to improve efficiency and teamwork among the care team. They’ll work with a ready-to-use protocol, designed by Johns Hopkins and the American College of Surgeons, and receive education materials about putting it in place.

In addition, patient safety and performance improvement experts will be at participating hospitals’ disposal throughout the length of the program. They’ll also be able to talk with other clinicians and surgeons who are implementing the program at their hospitals to get ideas for overcoming any challenges they encounter.

While the program will start with colorectal surgery, plans are in the works to expand it to several other areas, including orthopedic surgery, emergency general surgery, bariatric surgery and gynecological procedures.

Initiatives like these are just the thing hospitals need to offer more value-based care to their patients. For more information about the quality-improvement program or to inquire about participating, email

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