Emergency medical transport of the elderly: a population-based study

Am J Emerg Med. 1995 May;13(3):297-300. doi: 10.1016/0735-6757(95)90203-1.


Patterns of utilization of emergency medical services transport (EMS) by the elderly are poorly understood. We determined population-based rates of EMS utilization by the elderly and characterized utilization patterns by age, gender, race, and reason for transport. This observational, population-based study was conducted in Forsyth County, NC, a semi-urban county served by one convalescent ambulance service and one EMS service. Using data on all 1990 EMS transports and the 1990 U.S. census data, age-, gender-, and race-specific transport rates for persons aged 60 or older were calculated. Reasons for transport and frequency of repeat users were established. After exclusion of transports because of an address outside the county, a nonhospital destination, a scheduled transport, or missing data, 4,688 transports (78% of total) remained for analysis. The overall rate of transport was 104/1,000 county residents. Transport rates increased for successively older five-year age groups, demonstrating a 5.7-fold stepwise increase from ages 60-65 to 85+ (51/1,000 to 291/1,000). There was no difference in mean age between patients who were frequent EMS users (more than three transports during the year) (n = 66) and other elderly transportees. Reasons for transport differed little between those 60 to 84 years of age and those 85 years of age and older with the exception of chest pain, cardiac arrest, and seizures, all of which were significantly more prevalent in the younger age group.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Emergency Medical Services / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Health Services Needs and Demand
  • Health Services Research
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • North Carolina / epidemiology
  • Population Surveillance
  • Racial Groups
  • Transportation of Patients / statistics & numerical data*