Patients 65 and older undergoing surgery are at increased risk for developing perioperative neurocognitive disorders, including postoperative delirium (POD), with detrimental effects on their recovery. POD is the most common surgical complication in older adults, occurring in 5 to 50 percent of older adults after an operation, according to the American Geriatrics Society. It’s estimated that between 30 to 40 percent of cases are preventable, translating to roughly $49 billion per year in potential health care cost savings.
Saturday’s session, “Anesthesia Patient Safety Foundation: A New Frontier in Patient Safety: Perioperative Brain Health,” will shed light on the issue of perioperative brain health and discuss best practices for preventing POD, as well as the serious and costly medical complications that can result.
“POD is associated with myocardial infarction, pneumonia, respiratory failure and further cognitive decline,” said Daniel J. Cole, M.D., FASA, Vice President of the Anesthesia Patient Safety Foundation (APSF) and 2016 ASA President. Dr. Cole will lead the session with a discussion of the vision of the APSF for patient safety – that no patient shall be harmed by anesthesia.
Following Dr. Cole’s presentation will be a panel of speakers who also have been championing change in perioperative brain health in the hospital setting. They include Carol J. Peden, M.B., Ch.B., M.D., M.P.H., of the University of California, Los Angeles, Lee A. Fleisher, M.D., Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, Deborah J. Culley, M.D., Harvard Medical School-Brigham & Women’s Hospital in Boston, and Sarah Lenz Lock, J.D., Senior Vice President for Policy at AARP.
The speakers will outline the scope of the problem, including the burden of POD to patients, their caregivers and society, and outline principles for improvement, including strategies for engaging federal, local and patient stakeholders. The panel also will focus on strategies for reducing risks for cognitive decline in older patients facing surgery, including general and specific quality improvement and geriatric screening tools attendees can implement immediately in their practice to reduce the risk of POD among their at-risk patients.
Lock will conclude the session with a discussion of the problem from the patient’s perspective. Older patients and their families are becoming increasingly aware of the brain health risk associated with anesthesia and surgery or anesthesia and a procedure.
“I regularly get asked, ‘Is my brain going to be the same afterwards?’” Dr. Cole said. “We are here for our patients, and it is always beneficial for physicians to understand this issue from the patient’s perspective.”
As the population ages, the magnitude of the POD problem is expected to increase exponentially. Perioperative brain health is a critical concern to elderly patients and their families.
“This is an epidemic we all need to get out there and change,” Dr. Cole said.