Low-risk operations more dangerous for elderly patients than previously thought

Surgical tools are seen
Surgical tools are seen in April 2018 in Trujillo, Peru.
Leon Neal | Getty Images 2018

New research shows that some older and more frail patients are not being adequately warned before they undergo surgery.

A study in the Journal of the American Medical Association Surgery found an increased risk of post-operation death in frail patients, even with low- to moderate-risk operations.

“I think we always assume that if you have a frail, older person who's undergoing a high-risk surgery, that they're post-op risk of mortality is going to increase. But I certainly didn't think that would be the case with low- to moderate-risk surgery,” said Dr. Jon Hallberg, medical director of the University of Minnesota Physicians Mill City Clinic. “So that is a bit surprising.”

To find out how doctors are responding and what you need to know if you or an older family member are preparing for surgery, click play on the audio player above.

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