Nearly half of all persons living with dementia (PLwD) will visit the emergency department (ED) in any given year and ED visits by PLwD are associated with short-term adverse outcomes. Care partner engagement is critical in the care of PLwD, but little is known about their patterns of communication with ED clinicians.
We performed a retrospective electronic health record (EHR) review of a random sampling of patients ≥ 65 years with a historical diagnosis code of dementia who visited an ED within a large regional health network between 1/2014 and 1/2022. ED notes within the EHRs were coded for documentation of care partner communication and presence of a care partner in the ED. Logistic regression was used to identify patient characteristics associated with the composite outcome of either care partner communication or care partner presence in the ED.
A total of 460 patients were included. The median age was 83.0 years, 59.3% were female, 11.3% were Black, and 7.6% Hispanic. A care partner was documented in the ED for 22.4% of the visits and care partner communication documented for 43.9% of visits. 54.8% of patients had no documentation of care partner communication nor evidence of a care partner at the bedside. In multivariate logistic regression, increasing age (OR, (95% CI): 1.06 (1.04-1.09)), altered mental status (OR: 2.26 (1.01-5.05)), and weakness (OR: 3.38 (1.49-7.65)) significantly increased the probability of having care partner communication documented or a care partner at the bedside.
More than half of PLwD in our sample did not have clinician documentation of communication with a care partner or a care partner in the ED. Further studies are needed to use these insights to improve communication with care partners of PLwD in the ED.