Thursday, 13 November 2014

Are emergency department transfers a burden for elderly residents from aged care facilities?

Four School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine researchers have found that acute emergency department transfers are a considerable burden for elderly residents from aged care facilities.

According to the study, residential aged care facility occupant numbers are increasing. It notes that residents are frequently frail with substantial co-morbidity, functional and cognitive impairment with high susceptibility to acute illness. Despite living in facilities staffed by health professionals, a considerable proportion of residents are transferred to hospital for management of acute health deterioration.

The study looked into emergency care having unintended consequences for patients and the healthcare system. 

It found that residents of aged care facilities frequently presented severely unwell with multi-system disease. In-hospital complications included pressure ulcers and delirium. Despite specialist emergency care, mortality was high as well as an extensive use of healthcare resources with large proportions of residents undergoing emergency ambulance transport, and inpatient admission.

According to the research, it is not clear if benefits of in-hospital emergency care outweigh potential adverse complications of transfer.

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