Recognizing Risks in Older Patients Before Surgery

NeruonsThanks to Dr. Catherine Price and her colleagues, UF Health has introduced a program that accesses the risk of post-surgical complications from dementia before any surgical procedures that involve anesthesia for patients 65 and older.

Years of research went into the formation of the Perioperative Cognitive and Anesthesia Network program, or PeCAN, which is now a daily clinical practice.

Prior research has shown that a patient’s cognition and brain integrity pre-surgery are indicators of post-surgery effects such as delirium, cognitive change, and mortality. There is now a way to screen older patients’ brain before surgery to asses these risks.

Patients 65 and older at UF Health Shands, with the support of PeCAN, are now required to complete a three-word task and a clock-drawing exercise. If patients have trouble with these exercises, they are referred to the PeCAN team which will then complete a 30-minute cognitive and memory evaluation. If the risk for delirium is detected, the surgical and anesthesia providers are alerted, the patient’s family members are briefed, and the Geriatric medicine team members are scheduled to monitor the patient after the surgery.

So far, more than 800 patients have failed the cognitive screening before undergoing major surgery and have received the additional care required.

Congratulations to Dr. Price on this success after years of hard work! Catherine Price, Ph.D. is an associate professor in the department of clinical health and health psychology in the UF College of Public Health and Health Professions and the department of anesthesiology at the UF College of Medicine.

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