To investigate the effects of enhanced recovery after surgery (ERAS) on racial disparities in postoperative length of stay (pLOS) after colorectal surgery.
Racial disparities in surgical outcomes exist. We hypothesized that ERAS would reduce disparities in pLOS between black and white patients.
Patients undergoing ERAS in 2015 were 1:1 matched by race/ethnicity, age, sex, and procedure to a pre-ERAS group from 2010 to 2014. After stratification by race/ethnicity, expected pLOS was calculated using the American College of Surgeons National Surgical Quality Improvement Project Risk Calculator. Primary outcome was the observed pLOS and observed-to-expected difference in pLOS. Secondary outcomes were National Surgical Quality Improvement Project postoperative complications including 30-day readmissions and mortality. Adjusted sensitivity analyses on pLOS were also performed.
Of 420 patients (210 ERAS and 210 pre-ERAS) examined, 28.3% were black. Black and white patients were similar in age, body mass index, sex, American Anesthesia Association class, and minimally invasive approaches. Within the pre-ERAS group, black patients stayed a mean of 2.7 days longer than expected compared with white patients (P < 0.05). Overall, ERAS patients had a significantly shorter pLOS (5.7 vs 8 days) and observed-to-expected difference (−0.7 vs 1.4 days) compared with pre-ERAS patients (P < 0.01). In the ERAS group, disparities in pLOS were reduced with no differences in readmissions or mortality between black and white patients. On sensitivity analyses, race/ethnicity remained a significant predictor of pLOS among pre-ERAS patients, but not for ERAS patients.
ERAS eliminated racial differences in pLOS between black and white patients undergoing colorectal surgery. Reduced pLOS occurred without increases in mortality, readmissions, and most postoperative complications. ERAS may provide a practical approach to reducing disparities in surgical outcomes.