Hydrate While You Wait is a pre-operative hydration program that was first piloted on two surgical wards at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in February 2019. The program is comprised of two main components – a clinical pathway and corresponding medical directive for nursing – aimed at minimizing pre-operative fasting time among surgical patients, especially those booked as less urgent cases who are particularly vulnerable to prolonged periods of fasting.

The process begins in the operating room, where the coordinating team runs huddles 2-3 times per day to review the potential ordering of surgical cases. During the huddles, patients who are not anticipated to go to the operating room within the next two hours are deemed appropriate to receive clear fluids. A green hydration icon is then entered beside the names of those patients in the operating room tracking software (TrackOR), along with a designated hydration cut-off time. Patients who are anticipated to be going to the operating room within the next two hours at the time of the huddle are deemed not appropriate to receive clear fluids, which is denoted through entering a red hydration icon beside the patient’s name in TrackOR.

Nurses on the ward then check TrackOR at designated times throughout the day, and either provide or withhold oral clear fluid hydration based on patient eligibility and the type of icon listed beside the patient’s name.

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