There are many factors that go into successful recovery from surgery. The physical recovery follows a fairly predictable trajectory. Almost every operation that is performed has a detailed clinical pathway that health professionals expect patients to follow. There is a prescribed day at which it is expected patients will be able to walk, take a shower, independently be responsible for activities of daily living, when removing stitches should occur. Deviations from this pathway are usually traceable to a single source of complication. Infection, possibly. Bleeding, sometimes. For Phill, a large haematoma (old blood accumulating at the injury site) caused all sorts of problems that meant he deviated from the expected. Phill never experience any major problems in his recovery from surgery, but there were a few variances from time to time.
When reflecting on your recovery from surgery, it is almost certain that some variations will occur. Mostly small, sometimes large that require major intervention. The human body is an individual thing and everyone’s recovery from surgery is slightly different from the next person’s.
In the current literature, there is a great deal of research looking at a program called “Early Recovery After Surgery”. It is a program that is used by doctors and nurses in the management of patients undergoing colon surgery. However, due to the success of the program it is fast being rolled out to other surgeries such as orthopaedic and gynaecological surgery. The program places suitable patients on a pathway that is tried and tested to get them home fast and their recovery from surgery shorter. The aim of the program is to reduce the stress that is exhibited by a person in response to surgery. It prompts certain actions by the healthcare team, such as not inserting a nasogastric tube, using short-acting anaesthetic agents, early gut stimulation for those who have had colon surgery. This has had great impact on increasing these patient’s recovery from surgery. One of the keys to success is also patient information and education.
Take Phill for example. As a professional registered nurse, his pre-existing knowledge about surgery was already considerable. From the beginning, he woke up to discover an unusual arm sling, a gallow’s sling. Phill knew precisely the function of this sling and could work with the sling as he understood the basic principle of it’s function. His compliance with wound management was excellent as he understood the consequences of a wound infection. Patient compliance following his doctor’s appointment and hand therapy advice was impeccable as he knew that this was the right road to full recovery. These factors contributed to Phill’s quick recovery from surgery.
Phill discusses his milestone of six weeks of recovery from surgery in this Nurse on the Go Video.
Nic Nash-Arnold has been nursing for twenty years. She has nursed thousands of patients, mainly in the operating theatre. Nicole has worked in both public and private hospitals in Queensland. Ten years ago, she left the “coal face” of nursing and moved into a Nurse Educator role and then a series of senior and executive hospital administration roles. Nic has always believed in the empowerment with education. That might be empowering nurses to provide better care or patients to take better care, but education is always the centre of the solution. Google
Foss, M. & Bernard, H. (2012) “Enhanced recovery after surgery: implications for nurses” British Journal of Nursing, 21(4): 221-223.