Acute care for elders units produced shorter hospital stays at lower cost while maintaining patients' functional status

Health Aff (Millwood). 2012 Jun;31(6):1227-36. doi: 10.1377/hlthaff.2012.0142.


Acute Care for Elders Units offer enhanced care for older adults in specially designed hospital units. The care is delivered by interdisciplinary teams, which can include geriatricians, advanced practice nurses, social workers, pharmacists, and physical therapists. In a randomized controlled trial of 1,632 elderly patients, length-of-stay was significantly shorter-6.7 days per patient versus 7.3 days per patient-among those receiving care in the Acute Care for Elders Unit compared to usual care. This difference produced lower total inpatient costs-$9,477 per patient versus $10,451 per patient-while maintaining patients' functional abilities and not increasing hospital readmission rates. The practices of Acute Care for Elders Units, and the principles they embody, can provide hospitals with effective strategies for lowering costs while preserving quality of care for hospitalized elders.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living*
  • Acute Disease / therapy*
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Costs and Cost Analysis
  • Female
  • Health Services for the Aged / economics*
  • Health Services for the Aged / organization & administration
  • Hospital Departments*
  • Humans
  • Length of Stay* / trends
  • Male