Monday, June 17, 2019
As the country's population ages and medical advances increase, more and more citizens 65 and older are deciding to undergo surgical procedures that were once deemed too dangers for their age group. But just because these operations are allowed does not mean that the outcome is always ideal; one study reviewing major, nonemergency surgery in 165,600 adults over 65 found that mortality and complications increased with age and hospital stays often lengthened for these patients.
The reasons for the health risks should come as no surprise: aside from whatever ailment the surgery is meant to resolve, older patients usually have other chronic health issues that require medications and medical care. Dr. Ko and Dr. Ronnie Rosenthal of the Yale University School of Medicine, lead the American College of Surgeon's Coalition for Quality in Geriatric Surgery. They have developed a new geriatric surgery verification program, to be unveiled next month at a conference in Washington, D.C., after four years of planning and research, which will consist of 30 standards that hospitals should meet to improve results for older patients.
The college has also devised similar quality programs for trauma, cancer and pediatric surgery. “People understand that children are different from adults,” Dr. Rosenthal said. “It’s taken a surprisingly long time to come around to the realization that older adults are also different.” Some of the standards deal with medications regimes that do not rely heavily on opioids, geriatric friendly rooms, and other infrastructure need, while other requirements for the designation deal with communication with the patients. The goals of an 80-year-old patient may be very different than that of a 50-year old, with fears of nursing homes and a lower quality of life for several years hanging over their heads.
See Paula Span, The Elderly are Getting Complex Surgeries. Often it Doesn’t End Well, New York Times, June 7, 2019.
Special thanks to Lewis Saret (Attorney, Washington, D.C.) for bringing this article to my attention.