Accumulated frailty characteristics predict postoperative discharge institutionalization in the geriatric patient

J Am Coll Surg. 2011 Jul;213(1):37-42; discussion 42-4. doi: 10.1016/j.jamcollsurg.2011.01.056. Epub 2011 Mar 23.


Background: Frailty is a state of increased vulnerability to health-related stressors and can be measured by summing the number of frailty characteristics present in an individual. Discharge institutionalization (rather than discharge to home) represents disease burden and functional dependence after hospitalization. Our aim was to determine the relationship between frailty and need for postoperative discharge institutionalization.

Study design: Subjects ≥ 65 years undergoing major elective operations requiring postoperative ICU admission were enrolled. Discharge institutionalization was defined as need for institutionalized care at hospital discharge. Fourteen preoperative frailty characteristics were measured in 6 domains: comorbidity burden, function, nutrition, cognition, geriatric syndromes, and extrinsic frailty.

Results: A total of 223 subjects (mean age 73 ± 6 years) were studied. Discharge institutionalization occurred in 30% (n = 66). Frailty characteristics related to need for postoperative discharge institutionalization included: older age, Charlson index ≥ 3, hematocrit <35%, any functional dependence, up-and-go ≥ 15 seconds, albumin <3.4 mg/dL, Mini-Cog score ≤ 3, and having fallen within 6 months (p < 0.0001 for all comparisons). Multivariate logistic regression retained prolonged timed up-and-go (p < 0.0001) and any functional dependence (p < 0.0001) as the variables most closely related to need for discharge institutionalization. An increased number of frailty characteristics present in any one subject resulted in increased rate of discharge institutionalization.

Conclusions: Nearly 1 in 3 geriatric patients required discharge to an institutional care facility after major surgery. The frailty characteristics of prolonged up-and-go and any functional dependence were most closely related to the need for discharge institutionalization. Accumulation of a higher number of frailty characteristics in any one geriatric patient increased their risk of discharge institutionalization.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cohort Studies
  • Elective Surgical Procedures
  • Female
  • Frail Elderly
  • Geriatric Assessment*
  • Humans
  • Institutionalization*
  • Male
  • Patient Discharge*
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Risk Factors