Am J Emerg Med. 2022 Feb 21;55:45-50. doi: 10.1016/j.ajem.2022.02.027. Online ahead of print.
BACKGROUND: Patients over the age of 65 who present to the Emergency Department (ED) are more likely to be admitted to the hospital and, if admitted, often have a longer length of stay (LOS) in the hospital than younger patients.
OBJECTIVES: To determine if assessment and intervention by a Geriatric Emergency Medicine Assessment (GEMA) team would decrease the admission rate and reduce the hospital LOS for admitted geriatric patients.
METHODS: We conducted a case-control study of the impact of a GEMA team in a large ED. The team screened patients ≥65 years of age for functional decline to determine the need for targeted interventions. Potential interventions included: occupational therapy consultation in the ED, rehabilitation placement, geriatric clinic referral, and delirium management. Our control population was unassessed geriatric ED patients seen in the six months before and after GEMA team implementation.
RESULTS: A total of 815 patients were assessed between June and November 2019. Assessed patients were more likely to be discharged from the ED (54% vs 29%, OR 2.06). Mean ED LOS was nineteen minutes longer in assessed patients (4.94 vs 4.62 h, p < 0.01). The mean hospital LOS was 25 h less in assessed patients (4.50 vs 5.54 days, p < 0.01). Assessed and unassessed patients who were admitted to the hospital had the same baseline health status as measured by the Charlson Comorbidity Index (median score 2, p = 0.087). The reduction in hospital LOS resulted in an estimated savings of $1.7 million per year using the national average cost for 24 h of inpatient care.
CONCLUSION: Patients who were assessed by the GEMA team were more likely to be discharged directly from the ED, and if admitted, hospital LOS was reduced by over 24 h. This indicates that a targeted intervention in the ED can help reduce hospital LOS in geriatric patients and therefore provide cost savings.