Surgical patients back on their feet faster

  • Jonathan Coleman

Health Minister Jonathan Coleman says a programme designed to improve recovery after hip and knee surgery is helping patients get home faster.

“Each year over 11,000 hip and knee operations are carried out in our hospitals, 30 per cent more compared to nine years ago,” says Dr Coleman.

“As well as increasing the number of surgeries we carry out, we’re also continually looking at ways to further improve patient care during and after their operation.

“With this in mind, we’ve had 18 DHBs implementing the Enhanced Recovery After Surgery (ERAS) programme.

“ERAS starts when a patient has their initial consultation and continues right through to surgery, rehabilitation, and long term follow-up.

“A key focus with the ERAS is getting the patient involved in all decisions about their care – so they know what to expect and what is expected of them.

“A just released evaluation of ERAS found the average length of a hospital stay for a patient having a hip replacement dropped from 4.6 to 4.1 days. For those having a knee replacement, it fell from 5 to 4.3 days.

“This decrease in days in hospital demonstrates that the extra care is resulting in fewer complications, allowing patients to get home quicker. The reduction in days in hospital also represents a saving of more than $1.8 million in a year.

“There is potential for the ERAS programme to be adopted into other surgical specialities, with this already happening at some DHBs.”

ERAS is part of the Quality Improvement Collaborative, with the full evaluation available on the Ministry of Health website,