No more liquid fasting before surgery

For more than a century, patients have been asked to fast before heading into surgery, a task that can be both stressful and uncomfortable.

For the first time, Prince of Wales Hospital and Sydney/Sydney Eye Hospital have eased the strict liquid restrictions on surgery patients, meaning patients can now drink clear fluids right up until they go into theatre.

An Australian-first, the project has been spear-headed by Anaesthetist, Dr Phil Black and is called ‘Sip Til Send’, a concept that originated in Scotland.

Launching in early July and funded by the Prince of Wales Hospital Foundation, the project has made a substantial difference to the way fasting is approached for all surgeries.

“Traditionally, we’ve asked patients to fast due to fear of aspiration under anaesthesia. However, researchers and clinicians have been studying this for years and growing evidence shows that these guidelines are out of date,” said Dr Black.

This new approach is safer for patients. Not only does it prevent people from getting dehydrated, it can help with anxiety, agitation and stress.

“Often patients would fast for far longer than necessary, as a result of wanting to err on the side of caution or because their surgery got delayed.”

Staff and patients have embraced the change.

“Our patients have been pleasantly surprised when offered a glass of water before their operation. They are now permitted to sip from a standard ward cup (200ml) every hour.”

Given the project’s success, this reduced fasting approach will likely be rolled out across other hospitals in Australia.

Surgery staff launching the new Sip Til Send project