Keywords: discharge planning, elderly (PubMed Search)
Elderly patients (mean age of 84 years) living in the community who are seen and discharged from the Emergency Department due to illness or injury are at increased risk for further disability and functional decline for at least six months after their visit. This is associated with increased mortality, cost and need for long term care in previously self-functioning individuals. * When appropriate to discharge from the ED, we should consider discharge planning that includes coordination with care management services to be sure these individuals have adequate home support systems in place and access to close outpatient follow-up.
*It should be noted that the risk is even greater after inpatient hospitalization.
Nagurney, Justine M. et al., Emergency Department Visits Without Hospitalization Are Associated With Functional Decline inOlder Persons, Annals of Emergency Medicine, 2016; 69(4): 426 – 433. doi.org/10.1016/j.annemergmed.2016.09.018.
Keywords: older adults, CrCl, GFR, weight (PubMed Search)
Serum creatinine decreases with age with the decrease in lean body mass. However, the number of functioning glemeruli and kidney function decrease with age as well, making the creatinine an unreliable indicator of renal function in older adults.
The solution? Calculate the creatinine clearance (CrCl) (or GFR) for a more accurate assessment of the renal function. You can use simple equations such as the Cockroft-Gault equation which incorporate the body weight and age.
CrCl (mL/min) = (140-age) x lean body weight (kg) x (0.85 if female)
serum creatinine (mg/dL) x 72
Cockcroft DW, Gault H, Gault MH. Prediction of creatinine clearance from serum creatinine. Nephron. 1976;16(1):31-41. doi:10.1159/000180580.
Wiggins J, Patel SR. Aging of the kidney. In: Halter J, Ouslander J, Studenski S, et al., eds. Hazzard’s Geriatric Medicine and Gerontology. 7th edition. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill; 2017. http://accessmedicine.mhmedical.com/content.aspx?bookid=1923§ionid=144525776.
Keywords: wounds, trauma, procedure (PubMed Search)
Many elderly patients have thin skin making suture repair of lacerations difficult. Consider using Steri-Strips™ in combination with sutures to close fragile skin tears.
1. Apply Steri-Strips™ perpendicular to the wound in order to approximate skin edges.
2. Place sutures through both the applied Steri-Strips™ and skin and knot the suture.
This technique will help prevent the suture from tearing the skin as the tension of the suture will be distributed across the surface area of the Steri-Strips™.
Davis M, Nakhdjevani A, Lidder S. Suture/Steri-Strip Combination for the Management of Lacerations in Thin-Skinned Individuals. The Journal of Emergency Medicine. 2011;40(3):322-323. doi:10.1016/j.jemermed.2010.05.077.
Keywords: HoH, stethoscope, trick of the trade (PubMed Search)
Is your older patient hard of hearing (HoH)? Instead of shouting, get a stethoscope. Put the ear buds in your patient's ears and talk into the bell. It is a hearing amplifier you carry with you.
Bonus pearl: If you use the disposable stethoscopes, then the patient can keep it in their room and use it whenever anyone wants to talk to them.
Keywords: guidelines, protocols, safety, delirium (PubMed Search)
Based in part upon Geriatric Emergency Department Guidelines, the American College of Emergency Physicians has initiated a Geriatric Emergency Department Accreditation Program. Emergency departments (EDs) can be accredited at one of three levels- Gold (Level 1), Silver (Level 2) and Bronze (Level 3). There are various aspects upon which and EDs’ level is determined, including nurse and physician staffing and education, appropriate policies and protocols, quality improvement activities, outcome measures, equipment and the physical environment.
Keywords: fever, infection, physiology (PubMed Search)
Older patients are less likely than their younger counterparts to mount a fever in response to an infection. One explanation is that their basal temperature is lower. Some experts suggest redefining fever in older patients to match this decrease of 0.15C per decade. Therefore, your 80 year old patient would be considered “febrile” if their temperature is above 37.3C, rather than the traditional 38C.
Roghmann MC, Warner J, Mackowiak PA. The relationship between age and fever magnitude. Am J Med Sci. 2001;322(2):68-70
Keywords: pneumonia, infection, delirium, atypical (PubMed Search)
- Half of elderly patients presenting with pneumonia will manifest signs of delirium
- Tachypnea is the most reliable and earliest vital sign abnormality
- Classic symptoms are not often helpful at predicting severity of illness
- Symptoms are unreliable
- Cough (63-84%)
- Dyspnea (58-74%)
- Fever by history (53-60%)
- Fever at arrival (12-32%)
- Pleuritic chest pain (8-32%)
- Sputum (30-65%)
Caterino JM. Evaluation and management of geriatric infections in the emergency department. Emerg Med Clin N Am 2008;26:319-343.
Keywords: palliative, advance directive, end-of-life (PubMed Search)
25% of U.S. health care spending goes to the 6% of people who die every year. ICUs account for 20% of all health care costs. A new study has shown that patients with POLST (Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatments) forms are less likely to receive unwanted life sustaining treatments when compared to patients with traditional Do-Not-Resuscitate orders (http://www.ohsu.edu/polst/). Using the POLST did not impact the degree of comfort care received for symptom management and helped individuals make more informed choices about the type and level of end-of-life care they wish to receive.
Keywords: bruising, elderly, forensic, abuse (PubMed Search)
Keywords: dizziness, CT, MRI, Cerebellar (PubMed Search)
15% of older adults presenting to ED for dizziness have serious etiologies; 4-6% are stroke-related and sensitivity of CT for identifying stroke or intracranial lesion in dizziness is poor (16%), so if CNS etiology suspected, seek neuro consult or MRI (83% sensitivity)
Lo AX, Harada CN. Geriatric dizziness: evolving diagnostic and therapeutic approaches for the emergency department. Clin Geriatr Med. 2013;29(1):181-204.
Keywords: Delirium, dementia, screening, altered (PubMed Search)
A recent study was undertaken to validate the 4A's Test for the assessment of delirium in the elderly, with particular focus on inpatient geriatric patients; it revealed that the tool had high sensitivity in detecting delirium, particularly in those with dementia or language barriers, in whom this diagnosis can often be difficult to make. Further studies would be useful in a similar demographic of emergency department geriatric patients to confirm that this straightforward test is generalizable to the emergency department geriatric patient population.
The 4A’s Test used for this study was accessed from www.the4AT.com (Free Access).
The 4AT consists of four items with a maximum achievable score of 12.
Item 1 determines patient’s level of alertness by operator observation (maximum score 4).
Items 2 and 3 screen cognition and attention with the use of the Abbreviated Mental Test-4 (AMT-4) (maximum score 2) and Months Backwards (maximum score 2).
Item 4 assesses for ?uctuation and acute changes in mental state (score 0 or 4).
A score of 0 indicates delirium or cognitive impairment is unlikely.
A score between 1 and 3 indicates possible cognitive impairment (corresponding to stand alone dementia screening tools).
A score of 4 and above is suggestive of delirium.
Keywords: UTI, infection, elderly, symptoms, antibiotics (PubMed Search)
Asymptomatic bacteriuria is common and increases with age, with an incidence of up to 50% in women over the age of 70. Asymptomatic bacteriuria does not carry an associated high morbidity or mortality if left untreated; it is usually transient and resolves spontaneously. In order to decrease polypharmacy and possible drug interactions in our elderly patients, they should only be diagnosed with and treated for a UTI if they have laboratory evidence of a UTI (bacteriuria and pyuria) and have two of the following:
· Worsened urinary urgency or frequency
· Acute dysuria
· Suprapubic tenderness
· Costovertebral angle tenderness
Mody L, Juthani-Mehta M. Urinary Tract Infections in Older Women: A Clinical Review. JAMA. 2014;311(8):844-854. doi:10.1001/jama.2014.303.
Keywords: elderly, psychiatry, mental health, screening (PubMed Search)
Arias, S. A., Boudreaux, E. D., Segal, D. L., Miller, I., Camargo, C. A. and Betz, M. E. (2017), Disparities in Treatment of Older Adults with Suicide Risk in the Emergency Department. J Am Geriatr Soc, 65: 2272–2277. doi:10.1111/jgs.15011
Providing consistent, quality emergency care to the elderly is critically important. The Geriatric Emergency Department (GED) guidelines, developed collaboratively, provide a standardized set of guidelines to help improve care of the geriatric population in the emergency department.
In order to improve the standards for geriatric emergency care, representatives from the American College of Emergency Physicians, the American Geriatrics Society, Emergency Nurses Association, and the Society for Academic Emergency Medicine worked together to create the GED Guidelines. These guidelines create a template related to developing a geriatric focused emergency department, including specific recommendations related to staffing and administration, follow up and transition of care, education, quality improvement, equipment and supplies, as well as policies and procedures.
Keywords: arrhythmia, syncope, fall (PubMed Search)
20% of unexplained falls in the elderly can be attributed to an arrhythmia.
Bhangu J, McMahon CG, Hall P, et al. Long-term cardiac monitoring in older adults with unexplained falls and syncope. Heart 2016;102:681-686.
Keywords: abuse, marks, interview (PubMed Search)
When you are working up an elderly patient for trauma look for patterns such as circumferential bruising on the wrists that have the pattern of fingers the same way you would look at the injuries of a child. Remember that the person who is sitting next to them is frequently the person that is abusing them. Therefore, it is important to interview the patient alone.
Lachs MS, Pillemer KA. Elder Abuse. N Engl J Med 2015; 373:1947-1956
Keywords: Geriatric, cardiology, symptoms, atypical, angina (PubMed Search)
Older patients with acute coronoary syndrome (ACS) are less likely to present with typical ischemic chest pain (pressure-like quality, substernal location, radiating to jaw, neck, left arm/shoulder and exertional component) compared with younger counterparts.
Typical angina symptoms predictive of acute myocardial infarction (AMI) in younger patients were less helpful in predicting AMI in the elderly population.
Autonomic symptoms such as dyspnea, diaphoresis, nausea and vomiting, pre-syncope or syncope are more common accompaniments to chest discomfort in elderly ACS patients.
Symptoms may also be less likely to be induced by physical exertion; instead, they are often precipitated by hemodynamic stressors such as infection or dehydration
Bottom Line: Keep a high index of suspicion for ACS in older patients as they present atypically.
Keywords: geriatric, trauma, imaging (PubMed Search)
· In the elderly, falling is the most common mechanism of injury
· Unavoidable Risk factors: age 85 or older, male, Caucasian, history of falls
· Other factors: alcohol consumption, polypharmacy
· Mechanisms of fall: slipping, tripping, stumbling
· Physical exam to include: gait, balance, proprioception, vision, strength and cognitive function testing
· Must consider neglect/abuse, affects 10% of seniors per year
· Evaluate for anticoagulant use due to increased risk of intracranial injury
· Use advanced imaging to identify occult hip fractures when clinically suspected and plain radiographs are negative
Abraham, MK, Cimino-Fiallos, NE. Falls in the Elderly: Causes, Injuries, and Management. Medscape February 1, 2017.
Keywords: Beers list, iatrogenic, medications, pharmacology (PubMed Search)
The Beers' Criteria lists 34 classes of medications that may be potentially inappropriate for geriatric patients due to a high risk of complications including increased risk for falls. When prescribing medications from the emergency department in geriatric patients, try to avoid these categories if other options are available.
The AGS Foundation for Health in Aging. Identifying Medications that Older Adults Should Avoid or Use with Caution: the 2012 American Geriatrics Society Updated Beers Criteria. 2012. Retrieved on March 5th, 2017 from: http://www.americangeriatrics.org/files/documents/beers/BeersCriteriaPublicTranslation.pdf
Keywords: physical abuse, neglect, identification (PubMed Search)
Evans CS, et al. Diagnosis of Elder Abuse in U.S. Emergency Departments. J Am Geriatr Soc 65:91–97, 2017