Perioperative Care Standards in Cardiac Surgery Patients Aiming at Enhancing Recovery: A Nationwide Survey in the Netherlands and Belgium

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Article, Peer-reviewed

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Objective: The aim of this survey was to describe existing perioperative care standards and best practices in the Netherlands and Belgium.

Design: An online survey was followed up by an in-depth personal interview. The main outcomes were the existing standards of perioperative care for patients undergoing cardiac surgery.

Setting: The online survey and subsequent interviews were targeted to one representative in the intensive care unit (ICU), cardiac surgery, and anesthesiology department from each cardiac surgical center in the Netherlands and Belgium.

Participants: A representative intensive care physician, cardiac surgeon, and cardiac anesthesiologist.

Interventions: None.

Measurements and main results: The response rate was 60% (71% for the Netherlands, and 44% in Belgium). Agreement across centers was found for discontinuation of proton-pump inhibitors (80%) and avoiding intra- and postoperative (92%) nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drugs. Additionally, 98% of respondents stated that physiotherapy should be started immediately in the ICU. Major divergence was found for elements such as the discontinuation of angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors (55%) or the postoperative use of chest support vests (44%).

Conclusions: The authors demonstrated a wide range of different local protocols. Strategies differed among disciplines, hospitals, and countries. This emphasized the need for the implementation of a more universal protocol to further reduce variance and improve recovery practices. This nationwide survey was the first of its kind simultaneously studying best practices for cardiac surgery through the entire care pathway at the advent of Enhanced Recovery After Surgery (ERAS) Cardiac implementation. A multinational randomized controlled trial to test the implementation of an evidence-based ERAS Cardiac protocol is the next step to pave the way for further outcome improvements in this high-risk population.

Keywords: ERAS; enhanced recovery after surgery; interview; outcome; perioperative care; recovery; survey; variance in clinical care.