Complex Surgeries and the Elderly

According to the article “The elderly are getting complex surgeries. Often it doesn’t end well.”  by Paula Span published in The New York Times on June 7, 2019,  people over the age of 65 account for 40 percent of patients undergoing surgery in hospitals. The article referenced a study that reviewed 165,000 adults over the age of 65 who had major non-emergency surgery and found that mortality and complications increased with age and hospital stays often lengthened.

The article states that “older patients often have chronic health problems, aside from what the surgery is supposed to fix, and take long lists of drugs. The hospital itself, where they risk acquiring infections or losing mobility after days in bed, can endanger them.”

The American College of Surgeons  website details the initiatives of the Coalition for Quality in Geriatric Surgery project.  According to information provided on the website, the Coalition for Quality in Geriatric Surgery project, supported by the American College of Surgeons and the John A. Hartford Foundation, will help to improve the surgical care of older adults.

The Coalition will help hospitals meet the rising needs of aging surgical patients who often have unique psychological and social needs as well as unique goals of care.  Interdisciplinary standards will be set and verified; outcome measures that matter to older patients, caregivers and families will be developed.

This year (2019) the Coalition for Quality in Geriatric Surgery Project will launch a geriatric surgery program to improve perioperative care as well as the full cycle of care for older adults.  The program will use the four principles of continuous quality improvements; set standards, define the right infrastructure, collect rigorous data, and verify.

The Geriatric Surgery Verification and Quality Improvement Program will provide a framework for the optimal care of the geriatric surgical patient with the goal of systematically improving the quality of geriatric surgery across the United States.