Surgery & Seniors

Surgery & Seniors: How to avoid the costliest complications in surgery patients over age 65

Nearly everyone has had the unfortunate experience of watching a loved one who is over the age of 65 undergo a surgery—and then never return to the person you once knew. Something has been lost. The toll is significant, both on the individual patients and their families.

Post-Operative Cognitive Dysfunction (POCD)

The economic waste of poorly managed surgery at a population level is likewise substantial. After operations, many seniors exhibit “post-operative cognitive dysfunction”, a clinical status in which the patient’s memory and learning ability decline. Estimates suggest the overall incidence of POCD in patients over the age of 65 can be as high as 50-80% at discharge, 20-50% at six weeks and 10-30% at six months post-surgery.

According to a JAMA-published study of nearly 2.4 million Medicare patients, the presence of POCD is associated with an increase of $17,275 in payments in the 12 months following surgery.

Why do post-op patients (65+) accumulate medical expenses due to POCD?

  • Increased likelihood of discharge to skilled nursing facilities
  • Increased length of hospital stay
  • Higher incidence of mortality at 1-year

The cost of post-op delirium alone in the US has been estimated at nearly $33 billion annually.

40% of cases are avoidable!

With optimized preparation (both mental and physical) and surgery protocols designed to reduce stress on the patient, nearly half of POCD cases may be avoidable—with all the related pain, suffering and expense avoided as well. Enhanced Recovery After Surgery (ERAS) protocols offer a formula for a heightened standard of care around surgery, a standard of care that leaves far fewer patients suffering ill effects for weeks, months or even years afterwards.

A New Model for Surgery & Recovery 

Goldfinch Health created a new approach that combines personalized nurse navigation, patient advocacy, Enhanced Surgical Pathways, and leading-edge technology. This ensures patients have access to the best information, surgical approaches and, perhaps most important, support exactly where and when they need it. The Patient is the Center of Excellence with Goldfinch. When it comes to the senior population, how can we continue to accept anything less?

To learn more or request a no-cost Surgery Quality Analysis for your group, contact a Goldfinch Health representative here or by email (