Brookings, S.D. – April 22, 2019 – Brookings Health System recently implemented Enhanced Recovery After Surgery (ERAS) safety protocol as a clinical pathway of care for patients undergoing major surgery at Brookings Hospital.

“ERAS is a care plan designed to help patients recover more quickly by decreasing their hospital stay length, keeping their pain level under control, ambulating early, eating and drinking as soon as safely possible and having them and their family understand their plan of care,” said Operating Room and CSR Director Candace Johnson, RN.

ERAS is based on evidence-based best practices and medical science to help patients recover as quickly as possible after undergoing a major surgery by treating the underlying cause of surgical pain, inflammation. It uses the best combination of medication to treat a patient’s pain with minimal to small use of opioid medications.

According to the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists, each year more than 2 million people may transition to persistent opioid use following elective, same-day surgery. ERAS uses non-pharmacological and non-opioid pain control measures to reduce the need for opioids during and after major surgery as well as to decrease the risk a patient will transition to opioid dependency and abuse.

ERAS aims to deliver surgical care with minimal change to the body’s normal function. Before a patient is admitted to the hospital for surgery, ERAS protocol focuses on educating the patient and their family about surgical recovery and pain management. This includes lifestyle choices, such as diet and exercise, which can speed the recovery process. The day before surgery, patients are given specific diet instructions to minimize fasting which can help reduce anxiety and pain perception. Prior to surgery, patients may receive non-opioid medications to reduce pain as well as medications that prevent post-anesthesia nausea and vomiting. After surgery, care providers assess a patient’s pain level and provide medications and possible alternatives to help control pain. If needed, opioids will be started at a low dose and stopped as soon as possible. In addition, care providers work with a patient to walk and to eat and drink as early as possible post-surgery.

“Following ERAS, negative side-effects from prescription opioids are minimized, including excessive drowsiness, confusion, delayed return of bowel function and constipation,” said Johnson. “Other patient benefits include quicker recovery to normal activities, shortened hospital stays, fewer post-surgical complications and lower overall healthcare costs.”

Brookings Health System’s surgical services offers a full range of inpatient, outpatient (same-day surgery), and emergency surgical treatments provided by skilled surgeons and professional support staff. To learn more about surgical services at Brookings Health System, please visit


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