As both a change agent and best practice innovator at Royal Columbian Hospital (RCH) for almost three decades, anesthesiologist Dr. Richard Merchant’s work has made him legendary.
For tremendous contributions in improving surgical patients’ care in Fraser Health and for inspiring and empowering future generation of anesthesiologist to carry on his innovative approaches, Merchant has been named this year’s Health Care Hero Award of Merit through the BC Health Care Awards.
He was most recently a key player in the development of RCH’s Enhanced Recovery after Surgery (ERAS) protocol. Since joining RCH in 1991, Merchant helped set up the cardiac surgery program, and served as department coordinator for cardiac anesthesia, as well as department coordinator for research and for resident trainings. In 1994, he helped pioneer the Rapid Surgical Recovery protocol for cardiac surgery, a model of peri-operative patient care designed to return patients rapidly to their baseline health, which later became known as the ERAS protocol.
This initiative decreased the length of stay for patients by 50 per cent from eight days down to four, reducing the rate of complications and improving health outcomes while increasing satisfaction. Merchant continues to co-lead this the ERAS work, using it for other surgery specialities, influencing improvements in the hospital’s quality improvement data and serving as a Fraser Health medical representative to the provincial ERAS working group.