Finding Health Equity in Surgery and Recovery

Finding Health Equity in Surgery and Recovery

Bias, both unintentional and intentional, contribute to differences in the quality of care received by patients in the United States. The consequences of these disparities can be catastrophic to patients and their families.

A 2002 report to Congress –just as relevant today as it was 20 years ago—detailed recommendations for beginning to correct these inequities, including:

“The consistency and equity of care should be promoted through the use of evidence-based guidelines.”

Enter Enhanced Recovery After Surgery (ERAS) protocols. Over the last decade, innovative surgeons have separated themselves from their peers by implementing minimally-invasive surgery as part of clinically-validated ERAS protocols. Enhanced Recovery pathways represent the entire surgical experience re-imagined with patients and their recovery front and center.

Just as the Congressional report anticipated, Enhanced Recovery (a prominent example of evidence-based guidelines) has been shown to eliminate disparities in post-surgery length of hospital stay between black and white patients. This benefit extends to multiple types of surgery, including Cesarean delivery.

If you’re keeping score, Enhanced Recovery protocols reduce:

  • Healthcare costs
  • Opioid use and addiction
  • Time away from life and work

And they represent a solution to address and remove race-based disparities in healthcare. Win, win, win, and win.

Yet, 95% of surgeries delivered in America this week and this month and this year will not be based on ERAS.

How long will we wait before we no longer find that acceptable?