“Complication rates are high among the oldest patients. Now a surgeons’ group will propose standards for hospitals operating on the elderly.”
Credit: Stuart Briers
By Paula Span
“People over 65 represent roughly 16 percent of the American population, but account for 40 percent of patients undergoing surgery in hospitals — and probably more than half of all surgical procedures.
“Those proportions are likely to increase as the population ages and more seniors consider surgery, including procedures once deemed too dangerous for them.
“Dr. Clifford Ko, a colorectal surgeon at the University of California, Los Angeles, recently performed major surgery on an 86-year-old with rectal cancer, for instance.
“‘Ten years ago, I’d think, “My god, can this person even survive the operating room?”’” Dr. Ko said. ‘Now, it’s increasingly common to see octogenarians for these types of operations.’