Cleveland Clinic Akron General Receives Level 1 Geriatric Surgery Verification

Program aims to improve surgical care and outcomes for patients aged 75 and older

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Katie Ely 216.906.5597

Cleveland Clinic Akron General

The American College of Surgeons has awarded Cleveland Clinic Akron General Level 1 Geriatric Surgery Verification. Cleveland Clinic Akron General is the first hospital in the state of Ohio and one of nine in the nation to receive this prestigious designation.

The Geriatric Surgery Verification Program was developed to evaluate and improve surgical care for patients aged 75 and older. The qualification criteria to receive accreditation includes a set of 30 evidence-based standards, including safety processes, quality improvement measures, resource standards, data collection and a verification process.

“We are proud to receive this designation and strive to provide the highest quality, safest care for our older patients,” said Mark Horattas, M.D., chairman of the Department of Surgery at Akron General. “We know older patients are at an increased risk of postoperative complications, longer hospital stays and slower recovery following surgical intervention. The Geriatric Surgery Verification Program highlights our team’s engagement with patients in decision-making and addressing potential vulnerabilities that may influence surgical outcomes.”

Many standards of the program relate to having a multidisciplinary team approach to oversee the compliance of standards and to address areas in need of improvement. At Akron General, the geriatric surgery quality committee includes representatives from surgery, geriatrics, nursing, case management, pharmacy, palliative medicine, quality improvement, anesthesia and relevant surgical subspecialties that collaborate with one another to provide a comprehensive care plan for patients.

The Akron General geriatrics team has expanded to include a full-time provider who supports inpatient surgical patients and ensures patients are involved in their care plan. The geriatric provider works closely with nursing and others on the support team to assist patients with medication management, pre-operative and pre-discharge screenings for vulnerabilities that include delirium, impaired mobility and nutrition. In line with the standards set by the program, Akron General also has implemented geriatric-friendly patient rooms that include facility upgrades designed to support older patients as they recover after surgery.

Implementation of the program standards includes the screening of patients aged 75 and older for risk to develop delirium using the Delirium Elderly at Risk assessment tool. Since the program began, Akron General has seen a decrease in the number of falls in older adults after surgery. A post-op pain prevention protocol was also established resulting in an 88 percent reduction in opioid use among this surgical patient population.

Akron General has been working to improve surgical care for older patients by introducing the Enhanced Recovery after Surgery program, an interdepartmental effort to share best practices to improve care and outcomes after surgery. The program resulted in improved patient satisfaction, decreased surgical complications, and a reduction in opioid use following surgery. In 2020, the Surgical Optimization Clinic also was established at the hospital to improve the coordination of care for high-risk patients undergoing elective surgery.

Americans aged 65 years and older are the fastest growing segment of the population in the United States and are a population disproportionately undergoing surgical care.