EDs for Elders


Anchor lead: Should specialized emergency departments exist for geriatric patients? Elizabeth Tracey reports

Emergency departments are frequently chaotic places, and for older people may make the experience of being in one traumatic. A recent study suggests that specialized EDs should be constructed just for elders, with a staff expert in recognizing and managing unique problems of aging. Constantine Lyketsos, an Alzheimer’s disease expert at Johns Hopkins, has a few questions.

Lyketsos: EDs and acute care hospitals are very bad places for people with dementia. The interesting question for me would be what’s the definition of geriatric? I’m not sure that a very healthy vigorous marathon running 85 year old is the same and needs a geriatric unit whereas you might have a very frail 55 year old with severe lung disease who is more like a geriatric patient in the lay perception. Is this really about age or is it about a frailty characteristic or cognitive impairment which would justify a very different approach.  :33

Lyketsos says study of such an initiative is appropriate. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.