Informed Consent and Cognitive Dysfunction After Noncardiac Surgery in the Elderly

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Abstract

Cognitive dysfunction 3 months after noncardiac surgery in the elderly satisfies informed consent thresholds of foreseeability in 10%–15% of patients, and materiality with new deficits observed in memory and executive function in patients with normal test performance beforehand. At present, the only safety step to avoid cognitive dysfunction after surgery is to forego surgery, thereby precluding the benefits of surgery with removal of pain and inflammation, and resumption of normal nutrition, physical activity, and sleep. To assure that consent for surgery is properly informed, risks of both cognitive dysfunction and alternative management strategies must be discussed with patients by the surgery team before a procedure is scheduled.

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