Background: The analysis of routinely collected hospital data informs the design of specialist services for at-risk older people.
Aim: Describe the outcomes of a cohort of older emergency department (ED) attendees and identify predictors of these outcomes.
Design: retrospective cohort study.
Methods: All patients aged 65 years or older attending an urban university hospital ED in January 2012 were included (N = 550). Outcomes were retrospectively followed for 12 months. Statistical analyses were based on multivariate binary logistic regression models and classification trees.
Results: Of N = 550, 40.5% spent ≤6 h in the ED, but the proportion was 22.4% among those older than 81 years and not presenting with musculoskeletal problems/fractures. N = 349 (63.5%) were admitted from the ED. A significant multivariate predictor of in-hospital mortality was Charlson comorbidity index [CCI; odds ratio = 1.19, 95% confidence interval: 1.07, 1.34, P = 0.002]. Among patients who were discharged from ED without admission or after their first in-patient admission (N = 499), 232 (46.5%) re-attended ED within 1 year, with CCI being the best predictor of re-attendance (CCI ≤ 4: 25.8%, CCI > 5: 60.4%). Among N = 499, 34 (6.8%) had died after 1 year of initial ED presentation. The subgroup (N = 114) with the highest mortality (17.5%) was composed by those aged >77 years and brought in by ambulance on initial presentation.
Conclusions: Advanced age and comorbidity are important drivers of outcomes among older ED attendees. There is a need to embed specialist geriatric services within frontline services to make them more gerontologically attuned. Our results predate the opening of an acute medical unit with specialist geriatric input.
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