Preoperative Medication Management: Filling in the Gaps

Authors: Satish N. Nadig MD, PhD, Julie Anne Wright Nunes MD, MPH


Preoperative medication management is central to the delivery of high-quality surgical care. The successful management of patients through an operation must address medication concerns related to anesthesia, individual patient care needs, and the surgical procedure itself. The number of patients who require preoperative medication management is formidable, with half of all patients undergoing surgery on some type of medication.1 Moreover, the number of medications and complexity of management increase with patients who often require surgery, namely older patients and those with multiple comorbidities. Largely because of adverse events in medication management, patients taking medications before surgery have a three times higher risk of postoperative complications than those who are not taking medications.2 Effective preoperative management of medications is a critical part of optimizing a patient’s clinical status for best possible outcomes before, during, and after surgical procedures. Despite the abundance of literature available on preoperative and perioperative management, significant gaps remain for providers caring for surgical patient populations at high risk for poor outcomes.3

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