Geriatrics (Basel). 2021 Aug 11;6(3):78. doi: 10.3390/geriatrics6030078.
BACKGROUND: This study describes long length of stay during emergency department (ED) visits and hospital admissions, barriers to discharge, and discharge solutions for geriatric patients.
METHODS: We conducted a retrospective medical record review of a random sample of 150 ED patients and 150 inpatients with long length of stay (LOS) encounters. Cohorts were characterized by demographics, social determinants of health (e.g., health insurance, housing), medical comorbidities at admission, discharge care coordination, and final disposition.
RESULTS: In the ED, the primary barrier to discharge was inadequate inpatient bed availability (63%). In the inpatient setting, barriers to discharge were predominantly due to a demonstrated medical requirement for continued hospitalization (55%), followed by difficulty with coordinating discharge to a skilled nursing facility or rehabilitation center (22%).
DISCUSSION: Among long LOS ED patients, discharge delays were often the result of unavailable inpatient beds and services. Reducing the LOS for ED patients may require further investigation as to which hospital services are most frequently utilized by geriatric patients and structuring inpatient bed allocation to prevent extended patient boarding in the ED. Reducing long inpatient LOS may require early identification of high-risk patients and strengthening of relationships with community-based services.