At University Hospitals, we understand having a surgical procedure, big or small, can be a stressful experience. Patients have concerns and questions that emerge in the days and weeks leading up to surgery, such as: How do I prepare? How will I feel after my surgery? How long will it take to get back to my normal activities? Knowing what to expect before and after a surgical procedure is essential for a positive outcome. Well-informed patients are more likely to actively participate in their own care, experience better outcomes, and report having a more positive experience overall.
Unique Protocols for Optimal Outcomes
The patient-centered, multidisciplinary teams at UH have developed protocols, based on evidence, to ensure patients have the information they need to feel confident, not just on the day of surgery, but in the days leading up to it, during the recovery period and beyond. Our evidence-based program provides multiple benefits to the patient, including:
- Reduced stress and anxiety
- Fewer surgical complications
- Faster return to physical activities
- Active participation in their own care and recovery
Key elements of the program include:
Consistent Communication between Teams
An essential component of our program is consistent, effective communication between all members of the surgical care team before, during and after surgery. Surgery patients may be seen at multiple UH locations during their journey, including surgeon offices, outpatient clinics, preoperative units, the operating room, the recovery unit (PACU), their hospital room, home care or a postoperative recovery facility. Our protocols ensure the care teams at each stage of the journey communicate frequently and effectively with each other to provide a consistent and seamless journey for the patient.
To keep you fully informed and lessen anxiety, your surgeon and preoperative team are available to address any concerns you may have in the weeks leading up to your procedure. In addition to answering your questions, the team will discuss a variety of topics with you, including:
- Your expectations for the procedure and outcomes
- The importance of optimal nutrition, before and after the procedure
- The importance of quitting tobacco products along with reduction of alcohol intake
- How your pain will be managed with minimal use of opioid medications (narcotics)
- The importance of getting up and moving shortly after surgery
- The importance of deep breathing and coughing techniques after surgery
- The anesthesia options for your procedure
Preoperative Care for a Faster Recovery
Our goal is to get you back to your life, your home, and your family as soon as safely possible. Working toward this goal starts when we meet you to discuss surgery and during your preoperative evaluation. Optimizing your health as much as possible preoperatively helps tremendously with recovery. Some interventions to help optimize you for surgery include smoking cessation, possible weight loss, nutritional drinks and, on the day of surgery, a carbohydrate drink.
Postoperative Care for a Faster Recovery
Your postoperative team, which includes physical therapists, will encourage a gradual but almost immediate return to moving your body after surgery. Getting up and moving after surgery serves a variety of important purposes, including:
Stimulate the gastrointestinal tract. Many body organs and functions are slowed down after surgery, particularly when general anesthesia is used. Perhaps most notably affected by anesthesia and pain medications are the bowels. Early movement can help stimulate the bowels and get them moving again, minimizing the risk of ileus, constipation and gas pain.
Lower the risk of blood clots in the legs. The formation of blood clots in the legs can be very dangerous as they can break loose and travel to the lungs and lead to death. Leg pumps and compression devices are helpful in the beginning to keep blood moving in the legs but nothing beats getting up and walking to stimulate blood flow and reduce the risk of clots forming.
Increased flow of oxygen to the body. Exercise promotes the flow of oxygen to all of the body’s organs and tissues and can help to maintain normal breathing, speed the wound healing process and reduce the risk of infections and other complications, including pneumonia.
Increased blood flow to the body. Movement ensures that all of your muscles and organs are receiving an adequate blood supply to promote healing.
Reduce the risk of skin breakdown. Staying in bed too long can lead to the formation of pressure sores (bed sores), which can become infected and delay recovery. Getting up and moving after your procedure lowers the risk of sores forming and causing complications.
Improved state-of-mind. Exercise has been shown to have mental benefits as well as physical. Getting out of bed and walking makes patients feel more empowered to get well and may improve their emotional wellness and increase feelings of positivity.
Passport to Home
The goal of your surgical team at University Hospitals is to get you back to your home, your life, and your family as quickly as possible and we will be there to support and encourage you every step of the way. An additional feature of our program is the Passport to Home tool - a helpful booklet that is given to every surgical patient. The Passport contains safety tips and daily checklists to help ensure that each patient is taking all the right steps towards a successful recovery.