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Postoperative protocols for older adults undergoing emergency surgery: a scoping review.

BACKGROUND: As the population of older adults expands, it is becoming increasingly crucial to develop perioperative protocols to meet their physiologic, functional, and cognitive demands after emergency surgery. We sought to identify protocols that improve the disposition, length of stay, and overall health outcomes of older adults undergoing emergency intracavitary, noncardiac surgery.

METHODS: Embase, Cochrane, and MEDLINE databases were searched, and results were deduplicated and uploaded to Covidence. We reviewed studies for postoperative interventions that reduced delirium, maintained functional status, and reduced length of stay in older patients undergoing emergency surgery. We included studies involving patients aged 65 years and older undergoing emergency intracavitary, noncardiac surgeries. Abstracts and full texts were reviewed by 2 reviewers. Data were extracted on the postoperative interventions used and the resulting patient outcomes.

RESULTS: We included 6 studies, which involved patients undergoing emergency general, urology, and vascular surgery. Interventions included a multidisciplinary approach, early involvement of a geriatrician or hospitalist, targeted geriatric-led ward rounds, unique postoperative order sets, and volunteer-driven activities. Standard care included early removal of lines, early mobility, optimal hydration, and medication review. These interventions were associated with decreased length of stay, decreased postoperative complications, and increased likelihood of disposition to home and previous functional status. Frailty was correlated with worse outcomes.

CONCLUSION: Through multidisciplinary interventions, a successful postoperative protocol for older patients undergoing emergency surgery is helpful for improving patient outcomes. The implications of these findings will help guide our own quality-improvement initiative to improve these outcomes in this patient population at our institution.

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