Mortality After Elective Surgery: The Potential Role for Preoperative Palliative Care

Alexandria J. Robbins, Gregory J. Beilman, Tatiana Ditta, Ashley Benner, Drew Rosielle, Jeffrey Chipman, Elizabeth Lusczek

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1 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND: Preoperative optimization is increasingly emphasized for high-risk surgical patients. One critical component of this includes preoperative advanced care planning to promote goal-concordant care. We aimed to define a subset of patients that might benefit from preoperative palliative care consult for advanced care planning.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: We examined adult patients admitted from January 2016 to December 2018 to a university health system for elective surgery. Multivariate logistic regression was used to identify variables associated with death within 1 y, and presence of palliative care consults preoperatively. Chi-square analysis evaluated the impact of a palliative care consult on advanced care planning variables.

RESULTS: Of the 29,132 inpatient elective procedures performed, there was a 2.0% mortality rate at 6 mo and 3.5% at 1 y. Those who died were more likely to be older, male, underweight (BMI <18), or have undergone an otolaryngology, neurosurgery or thoracic procedure type (all P-values < 0.05). At the time of admission, 29% had an advance directive, 90% had a documented code status, and 0.3% had a preoperative palliative care consult. Patients were more likely to have an advanced directive, a power of attorney, a documented code status, and have a do not resuscitate order if they had a palliative care consult (all P-values <0.05). The mortality rates and preoperative palliative care rates per procedure type did not follow similar trends.

CONCLUSIONS: Preoperative palliative care consultation before elective admissions for surgery had a significant impact on advanced care planning.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)44-53
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Surgical Research
StatePublished - Oct 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by the National Institutes of Health's National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences, grant UL1TR002494*. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health's National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences. Research by GB is funded by the NIH (T32DK108733). Research by GB and AR is funded by DOD (W81XWH18106872).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021


  • One year post-operative mortality
  • Preoperative palliative care
  • Surgical palliative care

PubMed: MeSH publication types

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


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