Project to improve outcomes for surgery patients recognised nationally
A project which has improved patients’ experiences of having an operation by enabling them to drink water until their surgery has been recognised nationally.
Earlier this year Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust changed its practice to allow, and encourage, patients having planned operations to continue to drink water until they are called to theatre, which has led to a number of improvements.
The initiative has been praised by the British Association of Day Surgery, winning its prize presentation at its annual conference.
Dr Mike Blundell, consultant anaesthetist at Northumbria Healthcare, said: “Having an operation is a distressing time for patients and telling them not to drink water in the lead-up only adds to that anxiety. In addition, it can also lead to nausea and vomiting, dehydration and mean patients need longer to recover after their operation.
“For a long time it has been recommended that patients do not drink for two hours before which is extremely difficult to implement and, for the 15 years I’ve been working as an anaesthetist, has been poorly managed.
“We’re always looking to enhance the care we provide at Northumbria and when we learnt of the improvements for patients at other trusts which had implemented a fluid-free policy, it convinced me that it was something we should do at Northumbria.
“Whilst it was a challenge changing deep-rooted ways of working, the teams got on board and worked hard to implement this new practice because they could see the difference it was making to patients. We fully understood it was a change for patients too.
“Due to the efforts of the staff, we’re now seeing more patients drinking water up to when they are called to theatre with fewer cases of nausea and vomiting, dehydration and complications. While these results are excellent, as a clinician it’s seeing the positive effect it is having on patients that is having the most impact.”
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