Profiles of older patients in the emergency department: findings from the interRAI Multinational Emergency Department Study

Ann Emerg Med. 2013 Nov;62(5):467-474. doi: 10.1016/j.annemergmed.2013.05.008. Epub 2013 Jun 25.


Study objective: We examine functional profiles and presence of geriatric syndromes among older patients attending 13 emergency departments (EDs) in 7 nations.

Methods: This was a prospective observational study of a convenience sample of patients, aged 75 years and older, recruited sequentially and mainly during normal working hours. Clinical observations were drawn from the interRAI Emergency Department Screener, with assessments performed by trained nurses.

Results: A sample of 2,282 patients (range 98 to 549 patients across nations) was recruited. Before becoming unwell, 46% were dependent on others in one or more aspects of personal activities of daily living. This proportion increased to 67% at presentation to the ED. In the ED, 26% exhibited evidence of cognitive impairment, and 49% could not walk without supervision. Recent falls were common (37%). Overall, at least 48% had a geriatric syndrome before becoming unwell, increasing to 78% at presentation to the ED. This pattern was consistent across nations.

Conclusion: Functional problems and geriatric syndromes affect the majority of older patients attending the ED, which may have important implications for clinical protocols and design of EDs.

Publication types

  • Observational Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Accidental Falls / statistics & numerical data
  • Activities of Daily Living*
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Chronic Disease / epidemiology
  • Emergency Service, Hospital*
  • Female
  • Geriatric Assessment*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Patient Discharge Summaries
  • Prospective Studies
  • Treatment Outcome