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World J Surg. 1996 Oct;20(8):1113-9; discussion 1119-20.

Comorbidity and the elderly trauma patient.

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  • 1Division of Traumatology and Surgical Critical Care, Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, 3400 Spruce Street, Philadelphia, 19104, U.S.A.


The elderly are forming an increasingly larger proportion of the population in developed countries with increasingly active life styles. The injured elderly patient has a combination of decreased physiologic reserve and a high incidence of preexisting medical conditions that cause comparably worse outcome, complications, longer hospital stay, and high costs. Although the management of specific injuries is similar in the elderly, many benefit from an overall more aggressive approach to early resuscitation and optimization of cardiopulmonary dynamics. An awareness of the importance of preexisting medical conditions and a coordinated, directed approach to the management of the injuries and the concomitant diseases leads to the most effective care. Upon recovery from injury there is often a change of functional level that precipitates a change in social circumstance. Ethical dilemmas, both at individual and community levels, may arise more frequently in the older trauma patient population. Increased triage to a trauma center, particularly when concomitant disease is present, is justified on the basis of improving outcomes.

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