The Geriatrician: The Frontline Specialist in the Treatment of COVID-19 Patients

J Am Med Dir Assoc. 2020 Jul;21(7):937-938. doi: 10.1016/j.jamda.2020.04.017. Epub 2020 Apr 23.


On February 20, 2020, a man living in the north of Italy was admitted to the emergency room with an atypical pneumonia that later proved to be COVID-19. This was the trigger of one of the most serious clusters of COVID-19 in the world, outside of China. Despite aggressive restraint and inhibition efforts, COVID-19 continues to increase, and the total number of infected patients in Italy is growing daily. After 6 weeks, the total number of patients reached 128,948 cases (April 5, 2020), with the higher case-fatality rate (15,887 deaths) dominated by old and very old patients. This sudden health emergency severely challenged the Italian Health System, in particular acute care hospitals and intensive care units. In 1 hospital, geriatric observation units were created, the experience of which can be extremely useful for European countries, the United States, and all countries that in the coming days will face a similar situation.

Keywords: COVID-19; Health Care Organization; frailty; personalized medicine.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • COVID-19
  • Coronavirus Infections / epidemiology*
  • Coronavirus Infections / therapy*
  • Disease Outbreaks / prevention & control
  • Disease Outbreaks / statistics & numerical data*
  • Emergency Service, Hospital / organization & administration
  • Female
  • Geriatric Assessment / methods*
  • Geriatricians / statistics & numerical data*
  • Health Services for the Aged / organization & administration
  • Hospitalization / statistics & numerical data
  • Hospitals, Teaching
  • Humans
  • Infection Control / organization & administration*
  • Intensive Care Units / organization & administration
  • Italy / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care
  • Pandemics
  • Physician's Role
  • Pneumonia, Viral / epidemiology*
  • Pneumonia, Viral / therapy*
  • Precision Medicine / methods
  • Risk Assessment