Patient Care

Frailty Indices Tool Predicts Post-Operative Complications, Mortality after Elective Surgery in Geriatric Patients


Clinical question: Is there a more accurate way to predict adverse post-operative outcomes in geriatric patients undergoing elective surgery?

Background: More than half of all operations in the U.S. involve geriatric patients. Most tools hospitalists use to predict post-operative outcomes are focused on cardiovascular events and do not account for frailty. Common in geriatric patients, frailty is thought to influence post-operative outcomes.

Study design: Prospective cohort study.

Setting: A 1,000-bed academic hospital in Seoul, South Korea.

Synopsis: A cohort of 275 elderly patients (>64 years old) who were scheduled for elective intermediate or high-risk surgery underwent a pre-operative comprehensive geriatric assessment (CGA) that included measures of frailty. This cohort was then followed for mortality, major post-operative complications (pneumonia, urinary infection, pulmonary embolism, and unplanned transfer to intensive care), length of stay, and transfer to a nursing home. Post-operative complications, transfer to a nursing facility, and one-year mortality were associated with a derived scoring tool that included the Charlson Comorbidity Index, activities of daily living (ADL), instrumental activities of daily living (IADL), dementia, risk for delirium, mid-arm circumference, and a mini-nutritional assessment.

This tool was more accurate at predicting one-year mortality than the American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) classification.

Bottom line: This study establishes that measures of frailty predict post-operative outcomes in geriatric patients undergoing elective surgery; however, the authors’ tool depends on CGA, which is time-consuming, cumbersome, and depends on indices not familiar to many hospitalists.

Citation: Kim SW, Han HS, Jung HW, et al. Multidimensional frailty scores for the prediction of postoperative mortality risk. JAMA Surg. 2014;149(7):633-640.

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