Background: In the UK, people aged 85 and over are the fastest growing population group and are predicted to double in number by 2030. Emergency hospital admissions are also rising.
Methods: All emergency admissions for the registered population in Devon to all English hospitals were analysed by age, and admission rates per thousand registered were calculated. The Devon Predictive Model (DPM) was built, using local data, to predict emergency admissions in the following 12 months. This model was compared with the Combined Predictive Model over five risk categories.
Results: The registered Devon population on 31 March 2011 was 761 652 with 65 892 emergency admissions in 2010/2011. The DPM had 89 variables including several local factors which strengthened the model. Three of the four most powerful predictors were age 85-89, 90-94 and 95 and over. The positive predictive value for the DPM was better than the CPM's in all five risk categories. Half (49.6%) of all emergency admissions were from those aged 65 or over. Admissions rose progressively and significantly in each successive elderly age band. At age 85 and over there were 420 emergency admissions per thousand registered.
Conclusions: Age, especially 85 and over, has been undervalued as a risk factor for emergency hospital admissions.
Keywords: Age; Age85plus; emergency care; hospitals; predictive-modelling.