When Illinois residents must have surgery, they are often unable to return to the same hospital for treatment of any complications that arise. A new study found in the Journal of the American Medical Association titled Care Fragmentation in the Postdischarge Period now indicates that this may increase those patients’ risk of death, particularly for the elderly.
The study aimed to determine whether patients receiving fragmented care at various institutions following surgery was associated with poorer outcomes than seen with those who are able to return to the same hospital. Researchers gathered data from Medicare inpatient files from January 1, 2009 to November 20, 2011 and included only patients who had undergone certain surgeries, including coronary artery bypass, which improves the flow of blood to the heart; abdominal aortic aneurysm repair to help make a major blood vessel stronger; pulmonary lobectomy which involves removing diseased tissue from the lungs; colectomy to remove irregular tissue from the colon; and hip replacement. All of these operations are common among the elderly. Researchers reviewed more than 93,000 patient files where individuals had undergone the treatments and required further post-operative care after discharge.
Results and indications
At the conclusion of the study researchers found a link between those who received post-operative care at a different facility than the one in which their surgery occurred and an increased risk of death. All told, 25 percent of these patients received treatment at a different hospital. Researchers found that these patients had a mortality rate of 5.8 percent while those who were able to return to the same hospital for treatment had only a 4.1 percent mortality rate. That is a 41 percent difference.
According to Fox News, lead researchers believe that doctors and patients need to be more aware of post-operative surgery complications prior to any surgery taking place. If they have a plan in place to recognize and respond to an emergency situation, patients are more likely to have a better outcome.
Unacceptable death rates for elderly patients
Whether due to doctor errors or unforeseen events, post-operative complications are a common occurrence. Although data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicate that mortality rates for elderly post-operative patients have been decreasing over the past 15 years, the number of deaths that occur every year continues to be unacceptably high, with as many as 71.3 deaths per 100,000 patients over the age of 85 and 51.4 deaths per 100,000 patients 75-84.
Those who have lost loved ones to surgical complications should contact an Illinois medical malpractice attorney for assistance. With their guidance and counsel, families may be able to find the closure that they need in order to heal and move past the traumatic experience of losing a loved one.