Emergency Room Visits and Readmissions Following Implementation of an Enhanced Recovery After Surgery (iERAS) Program
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BACKGROUND: Enhanced Recovery After Surgery (ERAS) guidelines have been widely promoted and supported largely due to several studies showing decreased post-operative complications and length of stay. The objective of this study was to review the emergency room (ER) visits and readmission rates and reasons for both in patients who were part of the Implementation of an Enhanced Recovery After Surgery (iERAS) program for colorectal surgery. METHODS: All patients having elective colorectal surgery at 15 academic hospitals were enrolled in the iERAS program. All patients were prospectively followed until 30 days post-discharge. Data were analyzed using descriptive statistics and multivariable analysis. RESULTS: A total of 2876 patients (48% female; mean 60 years old) were enrolled. Cancer was the most frequent indication (68.2%) for surgery. Overall, the median length of stay (LOS) was 5 days. Post-discharge, 359 (11.6%) of patients had a visit to the ER not requiring admission. The most common reasons for visiting the ER were surgical site infections (SSI) (34.5%), other wound complications (10.0%), and urinary tract infections (UTI) (8.6%). In addition, a smaller proportion of patients, 260 (8.2%) required readmission. The most common reasons for readmission were ileus and nausea/vomiting (26.1%), intra-abdominal abscess (23.9%), and SSI (11.5%). Patient and disease factors associated with ER visits, on multivariable analysis, included extremes of BMI (RR 1.02, 95%CI 1.01-1.04, p = 0.002), rectal surgery versus colon surgery (RR 1.34, 95%CI 1.14-1.58, p < 0.001), and open operative approach (RR 1.63, 95%CI 1.28-2.09, p < 0.001). Independent factors associated with hospital readmissions included rectal surgery (RR 1.89, 95%CI 1.34-2.77, p < 0.001), formation of a stoma (RR 1.34, 95%CI 1.04-1.74, p = 0.026), and reoperation during first admission (RR 4.60, 95%CI 3.50-6.05, p < 0.001). Length of stay of 5 days or less was not associated with ER visits or readmission (RR 0.99, 95%CI 0.72-1.35 and RR 0.91, 95%CI 0.71-1.18, respectively). CONCLUSION: Following colorectal surgery using an ERAS pathway, shortened length of stay is not associated with an increased return to the ER or hospital readmission. The majority of return visits to the hospital are ER visits not requiring readmission and the predominant reason for return are surgical site infections and wound complications.
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