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Mortality After Geriatric Surgery

Yale Public Health Magazine, Focus: Spring 2023


In the first study of its kind, Yale researchers found differences in mortality among subgroups of older Americans within a year of having major surgery. These differences were particularly pronounced for geriatric-specific conditions such as frailty or dementia.

Overall, according to the study, nearly 1 in 7 older Americans not living in a nursing home died in the year after major surgery, including more than 1 in 4 who were frail and nearly 1 in 3 who had probable dementia.

“Our findings define the scope and scale of mortality after major geriatric surgery in the U.S.,” said Thomas Gill, the Humana Foundation Professor of Geriatric Medicine at Yale and lead author of the study.

Building on their previous work, Gill and Robert Becher, assistant professor of surgery, received a grant from National Institute of Minority Health and Health Disparities Research to identify sources of potential disparities in outcomes after major surgery, with the goal of developing strategies and interventions to improve outcomes after surgery among older adults in the U.S.

Gill and Becher are interested in compiling evidence that will allow them to intervene on modifiable risk factors, such as physical frailty, cognitive impairment, or a lack of social support, so that they can improve postsurgical outcomes, especially among disadvantaged older persons.