A group of anesthesiologists discusses reports that patients who are put into a deeper sleep during surgery are more likely to die within weeks, or months.
Experts in the field say that while people over 65 may be at a greater risk, tens of thousands of deaths may be preventable by taking the findings into account.
About 10 million Americans over 65 undergo general anesthesia each year. Their risk of dying during surgery or immediately after is very low. But new studies indicate that around 9 percent will die within a year.
As NPR's Richard Knox reports, Dr. David Gaba of Stanford University organized a conference of about thirty leading anesthesiologists, surgeons, basic scientists and medical safety experts in Boston to address the issue.