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The effect of a multifaceted postoperative nausea and vomiting reduction strategy on prophylaxis administration amongst higher-risk adult surgical patients

Department of Anaesthesia, St Vincents Hospital, Sydney, New South Wales


Postoperative nausea and vomiting (PONV) is a common and distressing problem for patients and increases the burden of care in post-anaesthesia care units (PACU). As such it has been a recent focus for quality improvement. Evidence-based guidelines have demonstrated the benefit of PONV risk stratification and prophylaxis, but may be underutilised in clinical practice. This prospective pre-/post-intervention study was conducted at an adult tertiary hospital in non-cardiac adult surgical patients at higher-risk of PONV. The intervention included promotion of an evidence-based PONV guideline, and provision of individualised prescribing and patient outcome data to anaesthetists. Six hundred and twenty-eight patients with ≥2 risk factors for PONV following general anaesthesia for non-cardiac surgery were included (333 pre-intervention and 295 post-intervention). Prior to the intervention, 9.0% (30/333) of moderate- and high-risk patients received antiemetic prophylaxis consistent with our guideline. Post-intervention, the rate of guideline adherence was 19.3% (57/295). In the high-risk PONV group, the time in PACU was significantly reduced post-intervention, 66 minutes versus 83 minutes (P=0.032). This institution-specific PONV reduction strategy had a modest but significant effect on improving prophylaxis administration. However, our findings indicate that further efforts would be required to ensure fuller compliance with the current extensive evidence base for PONV management in higher-risk patients.

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