Implementing a thoracic enhanced recovery with ambulation after surgery program: key aspects and challenges
Enhanced recovery after surgery (ERAS) protocols aim to improve operative outcomes by focusing on perioperative care, including early mobilization, limitation of narcotics, and maintenance of fluid balance. We implemented a T-ERAAS (Thoracic-Early Recovery with Ambulation After Surgery) protocol which focused on early ambulation, with the rationale that a patient’s mobility may be a reproducible and measurable metric for their overall status—pain control, respiratory function, cardiac function, and patient satisfaction. We set a benchmark distance of 250 feet for our early ambulation goal and redefined “early” as within the first hour post extubation. We describe some of the major aspects to our program as well as some of the challenges and successes during our 8-year experience following the implementation of this program.