Surgery Complications More Likely Among Black, Hispanic Seniors: Study

Race and gender appear to play a role in the risk of older patients experiencing complications after surgery, according to the findings of a new study.  

In a report published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, researchers from the Center for Health Outcomes and Policy Research at the University of Pennsylvania indicate that older blacks and hispanics face an increased chance of experiencing surgical complications when compared to their white counterparts. They also found that the rate of complications was affected by gender as well.

According to a press release issued by the medical journal, the study highlights the need to carefully evaluate risk factors before surgery for older minority patients.

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Researchers looked at patient discharge data from the American Hospital Association’s Annual Survey and the 2010 U.S. Census. They looked at 13 common post-surgical complications across more than half a million white, black, and Hispanic patients age 65 and older.

The findings suggest that black patients were nearly three times as likely to suffer 12 of the 13 complications than white patients. Hispanic patients had double the risk of developing nine of the 13 common complications. There were also variables for different types of complication based on gender, the investigators found. However, the complications did not appear to be primarily due to surgical error. Minority patients often had worse health problems before they received or sought surgical intervention, researchers found.

“The risk of developing a post operative complication may be attributed to a number of factors,” lead study author Dr. J. Margo Brooks Carthon said in the press release. “Most pronounced, however, was the effect of pre-existing medical conditions.”

Reearchers found that when hospital and patient characteristics were factored into the numbers, the rate of complications for blacks and Hispanics dropped considerably.

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