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Nursing Home Patients Face Higher Surgical Risk

Posted Jan 27 2012 9:00am


Beware the surgical knife!
@TS Photography, Getty Images
Nursing home residents' frailty puts them at a higher risk for dying after surgery a new study reports. Well no kidding. did they need a study for that? About a year ago we were about to go through surgery - neurosurgery no less - for my 90-year-old mother. Essentially for two weeks they prepared us for her dying on the table. She didn't. Separate story but that says more about her attitude and desire to live plus some really great genes than anything else.

I digress.

Elderly nursing home residents experience more surgical complications than other elders their age. Residents typically have other advanced medical problems and may often be too frail for many ordered procedures, researchers said.
Physicians might be far too aggressive when ordering surgeries for nursing home residents, according to researchers from the University of California in San Francisco. They studied data from 70,000 nursing home residents and one million non-institutionalized Medicare beneficiaries over age 65. 
They found that mortality rates after surgeries such as gall bladder, appendix or colon removals, as well as bleeding ulcers, were consistently higher in nursing home residents than other seniors.
Bottom line - be educated on the risk. Question your physician and the surgeons. Remember we are still under a reimbursement system that awards more procedures. And there are unscrupulous physicians who are simply out to make as much money as they possibly can. Not all. But some. 
So be cynical and question everything.
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