Archive February 2020 XXI, No. 2

Ideas That Work: Sticky Solution

Gum Speeds Up Post-Op Digestive Function

SOMETHING TO CHEW ON
UPMC Pinnacle
SOMETHING TO CHEW ON Nurses at UPMC Pinnacle hand out gum to patients to help enhance their recoveries.

During abdominal surgeries, surgeons manipulate the bowel, which can make a patient have an ileus that delays the return of bowel functions. To counteract this, some of our surgeons like to give patients a stick of gum (sugar-free for those with diabetes) to enhance the early recovery of bowel functions following surgery. Chewing gum is a form of "sham feeding" that essentially tricks the gut into thinking it's being fed, which speeds up bowel functions, so we keep gum in stock for post-op nurses to hand out. Use of the practice started with abdominal and bowel patients, but has expanded into urology and other types of surgeries.

Lisa Swenson, MS, BSN, RN, ONC
UPMC Pinnacle
Harrisburg, Pa.
swensonlm@upmc.edu

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