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Our objective was to determine emergency department (ED) patient adherence to outpatient specialized geriatric services (SGS) following ED evaluation by the geriatric emergency management (GEM) nurse, and identify barriers and facilitators to attendance.
We conducted a prospective cohort study at two academic EDs between July and December 2016, enrolling a convenience sample of patients ≥ 65 years, seen by a GEM nurse, referred to outpatient SGS, and consented to study participation. We completed a chart review and a structured telephone follow-up at 6 weeks. Descriptive statistics were used.
We enrolled 103/285 eligible patients (86 eligible but not enrolled, 86 declined specialized geriatric referrals, and 10 declined study participation). Patients were mean age of 83.1 years, 59.2% female, and 73.2% cognitively impaired. Reasons for referral included mobility (86.4%), cognition (56.3%), pain (38.8%), mood (35.0%), medications (33.0%), and nutrition (31.1%). Referrals were to Geriatric Day Hospital (GDH) programs (50.5%), geriatric outreach (26.2%), falls clinic (12.6%), and geriatric psychiatry (8.7%). Adherence with follow-up was 59.2%. Barriers to attendance included patient did not feel SGS were needed (52.1%), inability to recall GEM consultation (53.4%), and dependence on family for transportation (72.6%). Home-based assessments had the highest adherence (81.5%).
Adherence of older ED patients referred by the GEM team to SGS is suboptimal, and a large proportion of patients decline these referrals in the ED. Future work should examine the efficacy of home-based assessments in a larger confirmatory setting and focus on interventions to increase referral acceptance and address barriers to attendance.
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