Quality & Safety

Goals-to-Discharge Patient Checklist: Implementing a Program to Optimize Recovery After Surgery for Patients With Colorectal Cancer

Nicole Trocchia Mattessich

colorectal cancer, length of stay, discharge, quality improvement, surgery
CJON 2020, 24(3), 316-319. DOI: 10.1188/20.CJON.316-319

Fast-track or enhanced recovery after surgery (ERAS) pathways are evidence-based perioperative guides that promote stress reduction and earlier return to function following surgery. They emphasize preoperative counseling, nutrition optimization, analgesia standardization, fluid and electrolyte balance, minimally invasive approaches, and early ambulation. Although ERAS pathways were implemented in 2016 on a 43-bed postoperative colorectal medical–surgical unit, inpatient stays remained beyond the projected two-day length of stay (LOS). A quality improvement team was formed and an eight-week pilot project was initiated in 2018. The project included the implementation of a laminated bedside goals-to-discharge checklist in the immediate postoperative period.


  • ERAS pathways are evidence-based guides and need to include a component of patient participation for self-management.
  • Checklists are valuable tools that can ensure a structured approach to patient education and early discharge with or without an electronic health record.
  • Quality improvement projects can be developed, evaluated, and adopted to optimize patient participation and organizational metrics.
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