Enhanced Recovery After Surgery programmes were first conceived to optimise perioperative patient care and have been delivered by surgical specialities in the UK for over a decade. Although their safety and acceptability have been ratified in many surgical fields including gynaecology and colorectal surgery, the cost effectiveness of its implementation in benign vaginal surgery remains unclear.
In this case-control study, the perioperative expenditure for 45 women undergoing vaginal hysterectomy at a North London teaching hospital after implementation of an enhanced recovery pathway was compared with 45 matched controls prior to implementation.
Frequency of catheter use (84.4% vs. 95.6%) and median length of stay (23.5 vs. 42.9 h) were significantly lower following implementation of pathway (both p < 0.05). Although enhanced recovery patients were more likely to attend the accident and emergency department for minor symptoms following discharge (15.6% vs. 0%, p < 0.05), the inpatient readmission rate (6.7% vs. 0.0%, p > 0.05) was similar in both groups. Establishing the programme incurred additional expenditures including delivering a patient-orientated gynaecology ‘school’ and employing a specialist enhanced recovery nurse, but despite these, we demonstrated a saving of 15.2% (or £164.86) per patient.
The cost efficiency savings, coupled with increased satisfaction and no rise in morbidity, offers a very attractive means of managing women undergoing vaginal hysterectomy. We believe that our data can be reproduced in other centres and recommend that the pathway be used routinely in women undergoing these procedures. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.