Patterns of ED use and perceptions of the elderly regarding their emergency care: a synthesis of recent research

J Emerg Nurs. 2003 Apr;29(2):122-6. doi: 10.1067/men.2003.65.


Introduction: The research literature reveals that the emergency care rendered to elderly patients may be of poor quality. Research examining elderly patients' ED use and their perceptions of their ED experiences was analyzed and synthesized, revealing gaps in the research and identifying areas for future research.

Methods: A computerized search was made of 3 databases (medline, HealthSTAR, and CINAHL). Each of the studies was systematically evaluated with use of the Nursing Practice Research Analysis Tool.

Results: Despite increased length of stay, more diagnostic tests, and higher expenses, the elderly have a higher rate of recidivism and are dissatisfied with their outcomes upon leaving the emergency department. Several areas that need to be explored further include quality of services rendered from the elderly ED patient's perspective; whether ageism exists within the emergency department; and the consequences of that ageism on the quality of care provided.

Discussion: The elderly are being cared for by ED personnel who have limited geriatric education within an environment that is antithetical to their needs. Research and endeavors that concentrate on improving the care of the elderly ED patient must be given top priority.

MeSH terms

  • Aged / psychology*
  • Aged / statistics & numerical data
  • Attitude to Health*
  • Clinical Competence / standards
  • Emergency Service, Hospital / economics
  • Emergency Service, Hospital / standards*
  • Emergency Service, Hospital / statistics & numerical data*
  • Emergency Treatment / economics
  • Emergency Treatment / psychology
  • Emergency Treatment / standards*
  • Emergency Treatment / statistics & numerical data*
  • Health Care Surveys
  • Health Priorities
  • Health Services for the Aged / standards*
  • Humans
  • Length of Stay / statistics & numerical data
  • Needs Assessment
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care
  • Quality of Health Care
  • Total Quality Management / organization & administration
  • United States