Surgery Risks May Be Higher For Nursing Home Residents: Study

A new study suggests that older nursing home residents may face higher risks of surgical complications than other individuals in the same age range. 

According to researchers at the University of California in San Francisco, nursing home residents had a mortality rate six times higher than non-nursing home residents in the following year after having their appendix removed. The findings were published last month by medical journal, Annals of Surgery.

The study looked at national Medicare claims and the nursing home Minimum Data Set from 1999-2006, gathering information on nearly 71,000 nursing home residents 65 and older and more than 1 million of their contemporaries who do not live in nursing homes. According to the findings, 12% of all nursing home residents who underwent an appendectomy died within the next year due to complications, compared to 2% of non-nursing home residents.

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The numbers stayed high across a number of categories, including gall bladder surgery, bleeding ulcer surgery and other abdominal operations. Researchers found that, overall, invasive interventions following surgery were more common among nursing home residents than those who do not live in elderly care facilities.

The researchers determined that, across the board, nursing home residents experience a higher rate of mortality and invasive interventions than other Medicare beneficiaries. The higher risk should factor into the medical decisions of doctors, patients and families, the researchers said. In some cases, they might want to consider alternatives to invasive surgery, the researchers said.


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