According to some new research, diabetes-related complications are the most likely culprit that sends them to the ER.
Additionally, senior patients tend to remain in the hospital for longer amounts of time and require a higher degree of care and hospital resources, say the authors of the study. This study was published in the January 28th in the Annals of Emergency Medicine.
The lead author of this study, Dr. Edward Castillo, an associate adjunct professor in the department of emergency medicine at the University of California, San Diego said that “efforts to improve care for vulnerable older Americans should focus on enhancing delivery and decreasing utilization."
"Older patients are more likely to have multiple chronic conditions, which makes emergency care increasingly complex. A better understanding of older patients opens the door for interventions in and beyond the emergency department [ED]," added Castillo.
For the purpose of the study, researchers combed through data from 2014 that was focused on seniors in California that were considered to be frequent visitors to the ED, i.e., they made a visit to the ED six or more times per year.
The top reasons for the visit to the Emergency Room were diabetes (26%), chronic pulmonary disease (21.5%), kidney disease (19%), congestive heart failure (16%), and peripheral vascular disease (15%) – a blockage or damage to the veins or arteries.
When a comparison was made with patients that weren’t as frequent to visit ED, these patients were far more likely to be admitted or transferred (85% vs. 44.6%), as well as to discontinue hospital care (8% vs. 2%).
In addition, frequent senior patients were also more likely to be treated for more than one health issue, and 20% of those had three or more hospital visits during the same study year.
A co-author of the study, Kelly Ko, a director of clinical research at West Health (a non-profit medical research organization) said that “this study shows that there are opportunities for cost savings and more targeted preventive efforts across the care continuum for older patients."
"We can do more to help seniors stay healthier and potentially limit the number of times they have to visit the emergency department," Ko added.
According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, during 2012, senior patients made up 15% of the U.S. citizens that visited hospitals, and 21% of the total health costs, and almost half of the top 1% of spending.
Over 15% of the U.S. emergency department visits were made up by seniors aged 65+, according to date from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
If you want to continue reading about seniors and their visits to the ER, refer to the tips from The American College of Emergency Physicians.
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