Study reveals differences in post-operative complications across race, ethnicity, and sex in older patients

September 26, 2013

Older black and Hispanic patients have a greater risk than white patients of developing complications following surgery, a difference that can be explained by a patients' gender and pre-existing medical conditions. These findings, which are published today in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society (JAGS), indicate that efforts to carefully evaluate risk factors prior to surgery need more attention, particularly for older minority patients.

Research has shown that minority groups tend to develop complications following surgery more often than whites. Investigators at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing explored the impact of patient characteristics, including race, ethnicity and sex. They also examined the occurrence of among using patient discharge data; results from the American Hospital Association's Annual Survey; and the 2010 U.S. Census. Investigators also examined 13 frequent complications among 587,314 white, black, and Hispanic patients 65 years and older who underwent general, orthopedic, or in 600 hospitals.

Investigators discovered that black and Hispanic patients have a greater chance than white patients of developing a vast majority of postoperative complications. In fact, black patients were nearly three times more likely than white patients to develop 12 of the 13 complications identified by researchers. Hispanic patients were twice as likely than white patients to develop nine of the 13 complications but less likely than white patients to develop two of the complications. When hospital and patient characteristics were taken into account, the number of complications experienced more by black and Hispanic patients significantly dropped.

"The risk of developing a post operative complication may be attributed to a number of factors. Most pronounced, however, was the effect of pre-existing medical conditions," said lead author Dr. J. Margo Brooks Carthon.

The investigators also found differences between blacks, Hispanics, and whites that persisted after accounting for hospital and patient characteristics were different for male and female patients. "Older black and Hispanic patients admitted to hospitals for common surgeries have a disproportionately higher risk of developing complications. The risk of developing certain post-surgical complications, however, differs for men and women— even men and women of the same ethnic and racial backgrounds," explained Dr. Brooks Carthon.

The findings demonstrate the need to improve surgical safety and quality, particularly for older who are often sicker going into surgery and thereby at greater risk for complications. "Our study also suggests the need for further evaluation of patient prior to surgery and more vigilant surveillance of patients following operative procedures," said Dr. Brooks Carthon.

Explore further: Examination of hospital readmissions after plastic surgery aims to cut costs, enhance patient care

More information: Variations in Postoperative Complications across Race, Ethnicity and Sex among Older Adults. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, 2013; DOI: 10.1111/jgs.12419

Related Stories

Examination of hospital readmissions after plastic surgery aims to cut costs, enhance patient care

August 29, 2013
For patients undergoing plastic and reconstructive surgery procedures, obesity, anemia and postoperative complications—especially surgical and wound complications—are independent risk factors for hospital readmission, ...

Nursing workloads multiply likelihood of death among black patients over white patients

October 16, 2012
Older black patients are three times more likely than older white patients to suffer poorer outcomes after surgery, including death, when cared for by nurses with higher workloads, reports research from the University of ...

Can you predict complications with back surgery? Preoperative factors increase risk

September 3, 2013
For older adults undergoing surgery for spinal stenosis, some simple indicators of poor preoperative health predict a high risk of major medical complications, reports a study in the September 1 issue of Spine.

Racial disparities exist in outcomes of spinal surgery

June 18, 2013
(HealthDay)—The rate of complications, length of stay, and costs associated with surgery for lumbar spinal stenosis differ for African-American patients compared with white patients, according to research published in the ...

Major complications predicted by age, back surgery type

September 20, 2013
(HealthDay)—American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) class, age, and type of back surgery are independent risk factors for major medical complications, according to research published in the Sept. 1 issue of Spine.

Lighting up can bring you down in colorectal surgery

September 24, 2013
Infection, pneumonia, blood clots and kidney failure are all possible complications after any major surgery. A new study shows that smoking boosts the risk of such complications following some of the most common colorectal ...

Recommended for you

World's first child hand transplant a 'success'

July 19, 2017
The first child in the world to undergo a double hand transplant is now able to write, feed and dress himself, doctors said Tuesday, declaring the ground-breaking operation a success after 18 months.

Knee surgery—have we been doing it wrong?

July 18, 2017
A team of University at Buffalo medical doctors have published a study that challenges a surgical practice used for decades during arthroscopic knee surgery.

New tools help surgeons find liver tumors, not nick blood vessels

July 17, 2017
The liver is a particularly squishy, slippery organ, prone to shifting both deadly tumors and life-preserving blood vessels by inches between the time they're discovered on a CT scan and when the patient is lying on an operating ...

Researchers discover indicator of lung transplant rejection

July 13, 2017
Research by scientists at Dignity Health St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center's Norton Thoracic Institute was published in the July 12, 2017 issue of Science Translational Medicine titled "Zbtb7a induction in alveolar ...

New device could make closing surgical incisions a cinch

July 7, 2017
Like many surgeons, Dr. Jason Spector is often faced with the challenge of securely closing the abdominal wall without injuring the intestines. If the process goes awry, there can be serious consequences for patients, including ...

Success with first 20 patients undergoing minimally invasive pancreatic transplant surgery

June 29, 2017
Surgeons at Johns Hopkins Medicine report that their first series of a minimally invasive procedure to treat chronic pancreas disease, known as severe pancreatitis, resulted in shorter hospital stays, less need for opioids ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.