New findings regarding trends in medical care have revealed that the number of old people undergoing surgeries has increased substantially. Further, it has been found during the last month, week or year of life, the rate of surgeries is more common in older people. This had lead to discussions about excessive exploitation of medical care in America. The study was conducted on 1,802,029 Medicare enrollees over 65 years of age. Data regarding the number of surgeries during the last year of life was collected for the year 2008. The results were shocking since it was found that one-thirds of the older people enrolled in Medicare plan had undergone some kind of surgery during the last year. One-fifth of the people had gone under the knife during the last month of their life and one-tenth had undergone surgery in their last week.
As a person crosses sixty five years of age, the probability of him having a surgery decreases. It was found that the number of surgeries reduced with an increase in age. In the age group of 65, it was found that there was a 38.4% probability of surgery during the final year of their life. At 80, the probability of surgery during the last year reduces to 35.3%. At 90, the probability of surgery was only around 11.5%. However, one likely drawback of the study is that it considers that statistics of only the dead. The number of surgeries that older people still living undergo are not considered. Critics say that this might be a factor that could affect the accuracy of the report and distort facts. According to Dr. Peter B. Bach from the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, death did not indicate inefficiency of treatment.
It also did not provide solid data to know if surgery at a late stage in life was appropriate. Further, there are a number people belonging to the same age group who have undergone the same surgery and live long. Although the study does not throw light in these details, it does not diminish the significance of the increase in the number of surgeries during the last leg of life. There is, however, no concrete data that provides the precise cause of surgery and it can be because of several reasons ranging from pain relief to complications due to inherent diseases. The researchers of the study said that operations were carried out for several reasons even if the patient would not get a prolonged lease of life. Several surgeries fix temporary problems. Further, surgeries are carried out to fix temporary problems although it will not save the patient’s life.