American College Of Surgeons - Inspiring Quality: Highest Standards, Better Outcomes

Resources from the ACS Surgical Patient Education Program

The American College of Surgeons (ACS) is dedicated to improving the care of the surgical patient and doing more to advance the quality of patient education. Patient education is central to reducing complications and has been shown to improve outcomes. Engaging patients and educating them about their procedure and disease enables shared decision-making, aids in the transition to home after a surgical procedure, and improves patient satisfaction. Today, these resources are more important than ever. Two-thirds of surgical procedures are now outpatient, which means patients and families are now the major providers of postoperative care. As always, surgeons are primarily responsible for discharge education after surgery.

The ACS Surgical Patient Education program provides several types of resources for surgeons, hospitals, and patients, including:

  • Informed surgical prep brochures and e-learning resources
  • Home Skills Training programs
  • The Surgical Cancer Recovery series
  • Professional training programs and podcasts

The ACS online patient education resources feature information for patients (patient safety resources, finding a surgeon or treatment center, operation brochures, home skills training, medical library, and so on) and for providers (how to order materials, informed consent documents, professional training, organizational resources, and so on).

Informed surgical prep brochures are available electronically and in print. They are illustrated and written at a level that is accessible for all education levels. Many brochures are translated into Spanish. They include a discussion of risks and contain discharge instructions. Patient satisfaction with these brochures exceeds 90 percent. Current titles include:

  • Appendectomy
  • Ventral hernia
  • Inguinal hernia (adult and pedi)
  • Umbilical hernia (adult and pedi)
  • Colectomy
  • Colonoscopy
  • Cholecystectomy
  • Medication and surgery
  • Quitting smoking and surgery

Home Skills Training programs focus on kits developed by the ACS in collaboration with specialty societies. They allow patients to learn by doing. The kits include an instruction booklet and DVD, checklists, step-by-step instructions, visual demonstrations, and supplies for practice and simulation. Four kits are currently available, and new kits are planned for tracheostomy and anticoagulation management.

  • Ostomy (adult and pediatric; adult kit available in Spanish)
  • Central line
  • Feeding tube
  • Wound care

The Surgical Cancer Education programs include an explanatory booklet, a DVD, and a web-based program. Currently, there is a program for lung cancer, and the ACS plans to roll out programs for colon, breast, cervical, pancreatic, and thyroid cancer. The educational value of these programs for patients is broad and significant. For example, the lung cancer program DVD includes modules on:

  • Understanding your operation
  • Preoperative tests
  • Home preparation
  • The day of your operation
  • After your operation
  • Your recovery and discharge
  • When to call your doctor
  • Survivorship plan

The Professional Training program trains providers to help patients with smoking cessation before surgery. Professional e-learning resources that can be given to patients are included.

ACS continues to develop resources and materials designed to enhance our ability to educate our patients. These resources are carefully vetted, and patient evaluations of the ACS programs have been excellent.