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Margaret “Gretchen” Schwarze, MD, vascular surgeon and medical ethicist, was lead author on a paper that named 227 high-risk operations for patients 65 years and older. This list of operations, which appeared online at JAMA Surgery with the researchers’ original investigation article, will allow surgeons, researchers and other health care professionals to more easily identify surgical procedures that carry at least 1 percent operative mortality in older patients. A standardized list could also lead to more patient-doctor discussions weighing surgery risk and other treatment options. “For patients 65 years and older, the designation of an operation as high risk may present an opportunity for the patient to pause and consider the value of surgery or alternative treatments or prepare for the real potential of an unwanted outcome,” the researchers wrote.

Five of the paper’s authors are from the University of Wisconsin Department of Surgery. Other author affiliations include University of Pittsburgh Department of Medicine, UW Department of Biostatistics and Medical Informatics, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center Department of Surgery, and University of Utah Department of Surgery. This research was conducted through the Wisconsin Surgical Outcomes Research Program (WiSOR), a health services research center dedicated to facilitating surgical outcomes research and improving the quality, safety, effectiveness and efficiency of surgical care.

“Development of List of High-Risk Operations for Patients 65 Years and Older” appeared in JAMA Surgery online on February 18, 2015. Copyright © 2016 The Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System