From BJGP May 2020 by Hilary Swales et al.
Having an operation is a major event in anyone’s life. There is a lot a patient can do to improve their physical and mental health before surgery that will improve their recovery and long term health.
Fitter, better, sooner is a toolkit was produced by the Royal College of Anaesthetists with input from GPs, surgeons and patients.
The toolkit has, an electronic leaflet, an explanatory animation and six operation specific leaflet for cataract surgery, hysteroscopy, cystoscopy, hernia, knee arthroscopy and total knee joint replacement.
These can be seen at: https://www.rcoa.ac.uk/patient-information/preparing-surgery-fitter-better-sooner
The colleges want more active participation with patients in planning for their care.
The most common complications after surgery include wound infection and chest infection. Poor cardiorespiratory fitness worsens post op complications. Even modest improvement in activity can improve chest and heart function to some extent. Keeping alcohol intake low can improve wound healing. Stopping smoking is also important for almost all complications. Measures to reduce anaemia also reduce immediate and long term problems from surgery and also reduce the need for blood transfusion. Blood transfusion is associated with poorer outcomes particularly with cancer surgery. HbA1Cs over 8.5% or 65 mmol/mol causes more wound complications and infections. Blood pressure needs to be controlled to reduce cardiovascular instability during the operation and cardiovascular and neurological events afterwards.
This toolkit is already being used in surgical pre-assessment clinics but access to the materials in GP practices will also help. After all, the GPs are the ones who are initially referring the patients for surgery, and improving participation early can only be helpful.
It is hoped that this initiative will result in patients having fewer complications, better outcomes from surgery but also from their improved lifestyle.