About one-third of all patients aged 65 and over in the emergency department are finally admitted to the hospital. According to a new study from Northwestern University, an emergency program focused on transitional geriatric care has reduced the risk of unnecessary hospitalization by 33%.
It is important to reduce the hospitalization rates of elderly patients because hospitalization can increase their risk of psychological disorders, infections and falls. During and after hospitalization, many older adults have a loss of autonomy and a decrease in functional abilities and quality of life. " With this program, we have created a non-existent safety net otherwise for this vulnerable population Says Dr. Scott Dresden, co-author of the article.
In the study, emergency room nurses specifically focus on geriatric care and determine whether ED patients aged 65 and older already have a physical or mental decline, whether they have problems at home or again if they have common medical complications in older adults.
Patients who went to the emergency department and received specialized care are admitted to hospital in 36% of cases, while patients who do not receive specialized care are admitted in 53% of cases.
The nurses involved in the research asked a series of questions such as "who is the current president of the United States? Or what was your mother's maiden name? To determine the cognitive state of the patient.
As part of the program, patients returning home receive follow-up calls. They are sometimes transferred directly to a nursing home if the nurse determines it is the best course of action.
« This program is a model that other hospitals can easily adopt because they do not need to build a separate space ", Welcomes Scott Dresden.