A new study has revealed that elderly patients aged over 75 are twice as likely to die from a mistake, such as dosing errors and infections from surgery, than a child aged under 14.
The figures come from a study into death and serious harm from “medical misadventure” by researchers at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine who looked at 20 years of NHS data. They found that while the elderly are more likely to die because they undergo more treatment and may be less able to recover than a younger person, it is important that more is known about the risks to which they are exposed.
Dr Phil Edwards, one of the researchers, said that it had to be asked whether or not elderly patients are being given appropriate care. He said it was possible that the procedures which older patients undergo are comparatively more risky and complex and that they may be being given treatments which have only been tested on younger patients.
He added: “Despite the fact that they receive far more medical treatments than younger patients, older patients are often excluded from clinical trials of these treatments, or it could be down to older people receiving poorer standards of care. At the moment, we just don't know.”