The Role of Frailty in Failure to Rescue After Cardiovascular Surgery

Krish C. Dewan, Suparna M. Navale, Sameer A. Hirji, Siran M. Koroukian, Karan S. Dewan, Lars G. Svensson, A. Marc Gillinov, Eric E. Roselli, Douglas Johnston, Faisal Bakaeen, Edward G. Soltesz*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Background: Failure to rescue (FTR) is gaining popularity as a quality metric. The relationship between patient frailty and FTR after cardiovascular surgery has not been fully explored. This study aimed to utilize a national database to examine the impact of patient frailty on FTR. Methods: Of 5,199,534 patients undergoing cardiovascular surgery between 2000 and 2014, 75,851 (1.5%) were identified from the Nationwide Inpatient Sample database as frail based on the Johns Hopkins Adjusted Clinical Groups frailty-defining diagnoses indicator. Propensity-score matching was used to adjust for patient- and hospital-level characteristics and comorbidities when comparing frail and nonfrail patients. Results: Frail patients were on average older (68 ± 12 years vs 65 ± 12 years; P < .001) and had more comorbidities including heart failure, and chronic lung, liver, or renal disease. Among 68,472 matched pairs, frail patients had significantly higher rates of FTR (13.4% vs 11.9%; P < .001). This contributed to a $39,796 increase in cost per hospitalization (P < .001). Renal failure, respiratory failure, pneumonia, and sepsis were most commonly associated with FTR in frail patients. When hospitals were stratified by risk-adjusted mortality, low-mortality (1st quintile) centers had significantly lower FTR rates and costs among frail patients when compared to high-mortality (5th quintile) centers. Conclusions: Frailty contributes significantly to FTR after cardiovascular surgery. Frail patients can expect better outcomes with lower costs at cardiac surgical centers of excellence that can adequately manage postoperative outcomes. Preoperative assessment of frailty may better guide risk estimation and identification of patients who would benefit from appropriate prehabilitative interventions to optimize outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)472-478
Number of pages7
JournalAnnals of Thoracic Surgery
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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