Call to Action: Improving the Care of Older Patients in Emergency Departments. A much-needed Collaboration between Emergency Medicine Physicians and Geriatricians.
Volume 3 | Issue 1 | Article 6 - Collective Wisdom: EditorialFull Text
Adults aged greater than 65 have the highest Emergency Department (ED) use rates in the United
States and worldwide1. This population often suffers from multiple co-morbid diseases and has
a high incidence of polypharmacy, mobility disorders, and cognitive impairment2. Many of these older
adults also have poor social support and utilize the ED as their primary source of health care delivery3.
Repetitive ER visits and frequent hospitalizations in medically complex older adults often results in a
decline in cognitive and functional status5. Furthermore, the fluctuating course of the COVID-19 pandemic
has uniformly stressed our ED’s capacity to function and with limited resources, dramatically amplified
the challenges of caring for older adults to an all-time high5. Resources are needed to identify, assess,
follow and transition high-risk older adults to an appropriate level of care in high acuity and high
volume EDs. However, this task is very challenging, and it leaves our Emergency Medicine colleagues with a binary choice: to admit or discharge. This process often results in hospitalizations, which contribute to
the vicious cycle of unaddressed geriatric syndromes4. How then, as geriatricians, can we better support
our ED colleagues as they continue the remarkable work of caring for this group of patients?