Emergency department observation units and the older patient

Clin Geriatr Med. 2013 Feb;29(1):71-89. doi: 10.1016/j.cger.2012.09.002.


An increasing number of emergency departments (EDs) are providing extended care and monitoring of patients in ED observation units (EDOUs). EDOUs can be useful for older adults as an alternative to hospitalization and as a means of risk stratification for older adults with unclear presentations. They can also provide a period of therapeutic intervention and reassessment for older patients in whom the appropriateness and safety of immediate outpatient care are unclear. This article discusses the general characteristics of EDOUs, reviews appropriate entry and exclusion criteria for older adults in EDOUs, and discusses regulatory implications of observation status for patients with Medicare.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Emergency Service, Hospital / statistics & numerical data*
  • Hospital Units / statistics & numerical data*
  • Hospitalization / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Medicare
  • Middle Aged
  • Observation
  • Patient Selection
  • United States