Frailty plays large role in surgical outcomes, study suggests


Minor surgeries can still pose a high risk for patients who are older or frail, according to a study published in JAMA Surgery.

For the study, researchers analyzed data on 432,828 veterans who underwent noncardiac surgical procedures at Veterans Health Administration hospitals nationwide between April 2010 and March 2014. 

Researchers identified 8.5 percent of patients as frail and 2.1 percent as very frail. These patients demonstrated high mortality rates across all types of surgical procedures, even those of low operative stress. For example, frail patients who underwent the lowest-stress surgeries had a 30-day mortality rate of 1.55 percent, which exceeds the 1 percent mortality rate typically correlated to high-risk surgeries.

"These findings suggest that frailty screening should be applied universally because low- and moderate-stress procedures may be high risk among patients who are frail," study authors concluded.

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