The Geriatric Surgery Program at Johns Hopkins

Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center (JHBMC) annually performs surgical procedures on more than 600 patients over the age of 65, with nearly one-third of these patients identified as frail and at high-risk for adverse outcomes.  It is currently the goal of JHBMC to be the national leader in discovering how to bring our older patients through surgery safely, preserve quality of life, and return them to their loved ones as soon as possible.

The first step in mitigating the impact of frailty on surgical outcomes is being able to recognize who is vulnerable. JHBMC has been a leader in the affirmation and implementation of best practice guidelines put forth by the American College of Surgeons and the American Geriatric Society for the care of the older surgical patient. JHBMC participated in a national survey to examine what resources were most needed for the care of the older frail surgical patient. In addition, JHBMC along with seven other institutions was asked to examine best methods for implementation of a Geriatric Surgery Care Pathway that incorporates the best practices outlined by these societies. This project included setting both national standards and individual pathways for the perioperative care of the vulnerable older adult patient and ultimately, designating hospitals that participate in these pathways as “Centers of Excellence.”

Effective care pathways are not new to the care of surgical patients at JHBMC. In 2015, JHBMC implemented an Enhanced Recovery Pathway (ERP) for patients undergoing major abdominal surgery.  Surgical outcomes for major abdominal procedures following the implementation of our ERP have resulted in a significant reduction in length of stay (2 days), a 50% reduction in hospital-acquired complication, and a 9% increase in patient satisfaction following major abdominal procedures (Sateri et al., 2017).  In 2018, JHBMC implemented a multidisciplinary, hospital-wide, Geriatric Surgery Pathway, and Figure 1 below is a schematic of our pathway.  We recently examined our outcomes from the past 3 years following implementation.  We have seen a significant (over 70%) reduction in discharge to skilled nursing facilities following surgery and a 30% reduction in postoperative complications (Mostales et al., 2021; see page S205).

The following short video provides an overview of the surgical care experience at JHBMC.

Dr Sally Gearhart in Bayview Geriatric Med Vid

(Click on the image to view the video.)

To learn more about surgery in frail older patients, please see the Clinical Topics section on Surgery and Frailty.