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Class Progress
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Chapter Listing

Emergency Department Management of Elderly Patients - DEMO


Extent of ED Visits

Up to 24% of all adults visiting the ED are over the age of 65 years. Elderly patients use the ED twice as often as younger patients. Multiple comorbid chronic diseases, older age, dependent living, accidents, and poor self-care of health conditions increase ED utilization by elderly patients. As the older population has increased, the percentage of ED visits by nursing home residents has increased also. Nursing home residents account for 4.6% of ED visits made by patients aged 65 to 74, 12.3% of visits made by those aged 75 to 84, and 21.9% of visits made by those aged 85 and over.

The most common reasons for ED visits by elderly patients include:

  • Ill-defined conditions (symptoms of chest pain, syncope, malaise, fatigue, etc.)
  • Injury (bone fractures)
  • Circulatory conditions (heart failure, atrial fibrillation, abnormal blood pressure, etc.)
  • Respiratory disorders (pneumonia, upper respiratory infections, COPD exacerbations, asthma, etc.)
  • Digestive complaints (abdominal pain, food poisoning, etc.)
  • Musculoskeletal conditions (back pain, dislocations, sprains, and strains of joints/muscles)
  • Genitourinary disorders (UTIs, kidney stones/infections problems, etc.)
  • Skin/subcutaneous tissue injuries (burns, wounds, etc.)
  • Nervous system/sense organ complaints (poor gait/balance visual impairment, etc.)
  • Mental/behavioral disorders (confusion, delirium, dementia, etc.)
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