Old Age and Surgical Complications

hand-s-words-1438401-1279x699-300x164Older persons may be at a higher risk of surgical complications. However, it’s not only their advanced years that place them at a higher risk of such adverse events.

According to a review of multiple studies focusing on people above the age of 60 who underwent surgeries, there are many factors that dictate whether the person was at risk of suffering surgical complications. These include the person’s mental state of mind and symptoms of depression. The study focused on more than 12,000 people above the age of 60 and found that out of these, 25% developed complications after the surgery.

The review found that apart from depressive symptoms, and mental illness, some other factors including overall physical frailty, and a history of smoking, also dictated a person’s risk of suffering surgical complications. In other words, it wasn’t the advanced age by itself that increased the risk of suffering complications during or after surgery. Instead, the researchers found that a variety of other factors intervened to improve these chances.

Most surgeons factor in a person’s age as one of the factors that would exacerbate the chances of developing complications during or after surgery. The researchers speculate that reducing the risk of certain factors, including eliminating smoking and treating symptoms of depression or mental illness, could help reduce the risk of complications.

Seniors are living longer, and this factor increases the likelihood that they may have to undergo surgery or choose to have elective surgery. A few decades ago, surgery on a 50-year-old would be considered a high-risk procedure, fraught with complication risks, but that no longer holds true. Now operations are performed routinely on persons who are well into their 80s and 90s.

Preventing surgical errors in older persons requires that medical personnel address the fact that older persons may have a reduced ability to handle physical stress. It is important to pay attention to detail in the operating room to reduce the risk of complications or errors.  For instance, excessive blood loss in a 90-year-old could be potentially fatal. Therefore, surgeons must take steps to prevent extreme blood loss during as well as after the surgery.

If your loved one is scheduled for a surgery, take steps to prevent complications both during and after the surgery.  It is essential for the doctor in charge of your loved one to have access to complete and detailed information about the patient’s medical history. That includes information about all the medical procedures the person has undergone during his or her life, no matter how minor. It also includes any information about medications, including over-the-counter, herbal and prescription drugs that he or she is currently taking.

The Indiana medical malpractice lawyers at Montross Miller Muller Mendelson & Kennedy, LLP represent persons who have suffered injuries as a result of medical negligence across Indiana. If your loved one has been the victim of a medical error or sustained an injury during surgery, talk to an attorney at our firm. Call our office today for a free consultation.