Nursing home residents face higher surgical risks, study finds

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Higher acuity residents drove skilled nursing home bed prices to record levels in 2013, report finds
Higher acuity residents drove skilled nursing home bed prices to record levels in 2013, report finds

Elderly nursing home residents experience more surgical complications than other elders their age, a new study finds. The primary reasons are facility residents typically have other advanced medical problems and may often be too frail for many ordered procedures, researchers said.

Physicians might be far too aggressive when ordering surgeries for nursing home residents, according to researchers from the University of California in San Francisco. They say nursing home residents' frailty puts them at a higher risk for dying after surgery, Reuters reported.

Researchers led by Emily Finlayson, M.D., studied data from 70,000 nursing home residents and one million non-institutionalized Medicare beneficiaries over age 65. They found that mortality rates after surgeries such as gall bladder, appendix or colon removals, as well as bleeding ulcers, were consistently higher in nursing home residents than other seniors.

"We need to be more flexible with how we treat these patients so they don't face the dangerous risks associated with surgery," Finlayson said, adding that nursing home residents also needed extra treatment following their surgeries. “Patients who survived had to go undergo invasive procedures after surgery which means more time on the ventilator, more people getting feeding tubes, and more time in the ICU.”

The study was published in the October issue of the Annals of Surgery.