The importance of good perioperative care is being recognised across the NHS. For patients it can mean a safer operation, with fewer complications and a shorter stay in hospital, while for NHS organisations it can mean lower costs and less chance of becoming embroiled in litigation
Having an operation is a big event in anyone’s life: while NHS organisations may be used to doing dozens of operations each day, for those on the receiving end there are always concerns about whether the risks are minimised.
Most people will undergo operations without any problems and will return home without complications. But for some, things will not go so smoothly; they will suffer complications, their return home will be delayed or they will have lost the ability to live independently, or in some cases they will die.
Better perioperative care – starting from the point the patient is referred for surgery through the procedure and aftercare up to the point of discharge – offers an opportunity to reduce this burden on patients, and to save the NHS money.
Around 10 million people will have surgery in the NHS each year. Of these, 250,000 will be regarded as high risk – a small proportion of those undergoing surgery but they will account for four out of five deaths after surgery, according to the Royal College of Anaesthetists.
Better perioperative care could reduce these deaths. But it may also mean many other patients don’t develop complications and are able to go home without loss of independence or with their long-term health compromised.