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Screening Patients for Frailty

HealthDay recently published the results of a research study completed by a team from the Medical College of Wisconsin last fall. Although the study found that screening older adults for frailty resulted in better outcomes and chances for survival, this screening often does not occur, thus causing the frailty to go completely unnoticed, to the detriment of the patient.

The study involved 125 patients with a median age of 70 and who were facing major thoracic surgery, such as full or partial removal of the lung or esophagus. Researchers screened each patient for frailty, based on five different factors: weight loss, weakness or grip strength, exhaustion, low activity level, and slow gait. The most common frailty characteristic found in the research subjects was exhaustion, and the lease common frailty characteristic found was slow gait. Among the patients studied, almost 69% of them were either frail or exhibited signs of pre-frailty.  Given these statistics, it is likely that frailty rates among older Americans are vastly underreported.

Frail health in older patients results in a decreased ability to overcome stressors, including illness, falls, adverse risks from medication, and surgery. The less frail the patient, the more positive the outcome tends to be, especially when it comes to the body recovering from one of the stressors listed above.

Frailty in general also increases the odds for surgery complications and therefore, higher health care costs. The condition also leads to longer hospital stays and discharges to rehabilitation facilities rather than to home. Frailty also causes a higher likelihood of being readmitted to the hospital, as well as an overall decrease in an individual’s quality of life.

A failure to diagnose frailty can result in hospital and nursing home staff failing to take the measures necessary to adequately protect their patients. The nursing home abuse lawyers of Boller & Vaughan pride themselves on advocating on behalf of clients who suffer injuries at the hands of their caregivers, no matter whether those injuries from result from abuse or neglect in a nursing home or in any type of long-term care facility. We can seek compensation for you through the legal system, while you and your family can concentrate on healing, recovering from any trauma that you might have experienced, and moving on with your life. Don’t hesitate to call our office today and learn how we can help.