When something’s seriously wrong with your body, you may need surgery. Depending on how severe the condition is, you could get either major or minor surgery. There are many kinds of minor surgeries. Some are performed as outpatient procedures, and some can be performed in surgical offices. Usually, patients recover quickly from minor surgeries. However, if you have frailty, overlapping medical conditions, or are elderly recovery after surgery can be difficult.
Seniors are the most susceptible to frailty. The condition, as defined by surgeon Dr. Ronnie Rosenthal of the Yale School of Medicine, is “an accumulation of problems that leave the patient vulnerable to stressors….”
For example, people who have high blood pressure, gallbladder problems, lung disease and advancing age may be considered frail. Surgery always comes with risks, but frailty aggravates those risks and can lead to extended recovery.
Why age matters with surgery
Age is one of the highest risk factors for extended recovery times. However, it is not birth age that determines this risk, but physiological age. This means how well you have aged, which can be determined by how well you take care of your body. Healthy sleep patterns, regular exercise, eating a healthy diet, and avoiding smoking will help your body stay younger for longer. However, if these healthy habits are ignored, your body will put on more years sooner.
These habits strengthen your body’s immune system and shorten recovery time for illness in the long run. In contrast, if you do not take care of your body, it can make elderly recovery after surgery longer and harder.
Also, as your body’s age advances, several vital functions slow down. It becomes harder to heal from injuries and even minor illnesses. This is why longer recovery times are a risk of geriatric surgery.
Can I sue if I’m not getting better?
Longer recovery times will mean greater costs for you, the patient. If you’re wondering if you can take legal action when your health is not improving, the answer is: it depends.
In order to take legal action in a personal injury or medical malpractice suit, you must prove either negligence or intent for the party at-fault. In order to prove negligence, the evidence must be found that shows the doctor or surgeon failed to use best practices during your treatment. This might mean ignoring other conditions when they were specifically documented. Negligence or medical errors can be found at any part of the treatment process, from the diagnosis to post-operative care.
If you are worried about negligent medical malpractice, it is important that you document everything. Documentation will hold your providers accountable for their actions, which will be important as you work with a lawyer.
If you are not getting better, it is essential that you are following your treatment plan exactly as prescribed. Once again, this shows that through no fault of your own, you are not getting better. It will also prevent a loophole called a lapse of care, which can reduce the compensation you receive.
Hiring a medical malpractice lawyer will give you valuable resources as you build and organize a case. They can help educate you around medical malpractice law, as well as find witnesses and evidence to support your case.
What to do if You’re Worried about Recovering from Surgery
If you’re worried about how well you can recover from surgery, talk with your doctor. Post-surgery recovery, especially elderly recovery after surgery, can get worse if your doctor is not fully aware of your health conditions. In consultations, it is important that you list all the medications you take, recent health conditions, and family illness history. These pre-screening questions allow doctors to analyze which treatments either will or will not aggravate certain conditions. These screenings also allow doctors to identify your allergies, so if there are any drugs or anesthesia you are allergic to, the surgeon can avoid exposing you to those things.
A few helpful questions
Thoroughly discussing your options and your expectations with your doctor will help you prepare for any surprises. Consider asking your doctor the following questions from a study based around preparing seniors for surgery.
- What happens if I do or do not have surgery?
- Will this surgery help me feel better?
- Will surgery help me live longer?
- How much longer can I expect to live after this surgery?
- How will this surgery affect my life through the next year?
- Will this surgery use tubes or drains?
- Do I need to be prepared to use tubes or drains at home after surgery?
- How will this surgery interact and affect my other health conditions?
- Will I need at-home care after my surgery?
- What serious complications are there for this surgery?
- How likely are those complications for my surgery?
- What will those complications mean for me?
- If I become too sick to speak for myself, how can I make my choices known?
- How do I arrange for someone to make decisions for me, in the event that I am too sick to make decisions for myself?
A few more things to consider about elderly recovery after surgery
It is a detailed list, but if you ask your doctor these questions, it will help you evaluate the benefits of getting surgery. Sometimes, depending on your other health problems, your doctor may recommend avoiding surgery. If your health problems put you in serious pain, like with gallbladder disease, you may decide that the surgery is worth it.
Surgical treatments for cancer may require more follow-up, especially for older patients. These treatments may extend your lifespan, but there are risks for reducing the quality of your life.
Answers to these questions will also help you determine if you need to make changes to your home before your surgery. If your doctor believes that the surgery has a high risk of reducing your mobility, you may want to arrange your home to avoid stairs.
If you will need in-home hospice or medical care, you will be able to organize and plan to receive this care before surgery.
How to heal after surgery
Rest is key when recovering from surgery. Increasing physical activity will put more stress on your body, so take it easy. Even if you only had minor surgery. Maintaining a healthy diet will give your body the nutrients it needs to repair itself. Be aware that some surgeries may disrupt your digestive system, but your doctor can give you specific diet recommendations.
Carefully monitor your body, and attend all follow-up appointments. If you are worried about any side effects, your doctor can detect them earlier. By keeping a close eye on your health, your doctor can continue to make recommendations that will help you improve your health.
Finding a Medical Malpractice Attorney
Building a medical malpractice case can be challenging on your own. But by working with a specialized medical malpractice lawyer, you will get everything you need to build a successful case. Our highly respected and experienced Iowa medical negligence attorneys are committed to your case. They bring a variety of experiences and expertise that will bring you the compensation you need. Visit us at our local Des Moines Galligan Law office to start building your case. Contact us by email, phone, or here on our website. Don’t hesitate to get the help you need. Set up a FREE consultation with us today!