Aims: The aim of this study was to determine the association between the common geriatric syndromes and predefined adverse outcomes of hospitalization and to identify the most important independent predictors of adverse outcomes using information gained within 24 h of admission in older general medical patients.
Methods: A prospective longitudinal cohort study of patients aged > or =75 years admitted to the rapid assessment medical unit in a teaching hospital was carried out. The role of geriatric syndromes in predicting outcomes was examined in univariate and multivariate models. The outcome measures were (i) length of hospital stay (LOS) of 28 days or more, (ii) institutionalization or change in residential care status to a more dependent category at discharge or during 3 months post-discharge, (iii) unplanned readmissions during 3 months and (iv) mortality in hospital or 3 months post-discharge.
Results: The presence of geriatric syndromes was significantly associated with increased LOS and institutionalization or change in residential care status to a more dependent category. The factors most predictive of these outcomes were impaired pre-admission functional status in activities of daily living, recurrent falls, urinary incontinence and supported living arrangements. The geriatric syndromes appeared less important in predicting unplanned readmission and death.
Conclusion: The presence of geriatric syndromes in older general medical patients is an important determinant of adverse outcomes of hospitalization, particularly of LOS and admission to residential care. The predictors most useful for screening patients for these outcomes, within 24 h of admission, appear to be the presence of certain pre-existing geriatric syndromes before admission.