Ethics in Medicine

Frail Older Patients Struggle After Even Minor Operations

Kristen Sparrow • December 14, 2019

Frail, older patients frequently undergo such operations, which surgeons tend to see as routine, simple fixes — but may not be. “Our data indicate that there are no low-risk procedures among patients who are frail,” Dr. Hall and his co-authors concluded in their study.

So he had a lot to talk over with this patient and his son, who joined the discussion by phone.

What’s frailty? “It’s an accumulation of problems that leave the patient vulnerable to stressors,” said Dr. Ronnie Rosenthal, a surgeon at the Yale School of Medicine. “And surgery is a big stress.”