Frail patients more likely to die in the year after surgery

February 24, 2016

While all surgeries come with risks, a recent study led by Dr. Daniel McIsaac found that frail, elderly patients are more likely to die in the year after surgery than other patients. The study published in JAMA Surgery reviewed the health records of 200,000 Ontario patients over age 65 who had scheduled surgery between 2002 and 2012. The team defined frailty as a combination of conditions including falls, low cognitive scores and poor global function. Only three percent of the surgeries they looked at involved frail patients. However, 14 percent of these frail patients died in the year after surgery, compared to five percent of non-frail patients. Even more striking was that three days after an operation, frail patients died at a rate 30 times higher than non-frail patients. This research demonstrates the need for routine identification and care of frail patients prior to surgery, work that Dr. McIsaac’s team is now pursuing. Dr. McIsaac was interviewed about this research by Reuters.

Co-authors: Gregory L. Bryson, Carl van Walraven

Funders: Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, University of Ottawa Department of Anesthesiology, The Ottawa Hospital Foundation

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Disease and research area tags: Aging, Frailty, Surgery