A Canadian study reveals that hospitals that provide quality care for young people do not always provide the same quality care for the elderly in emergency situations.
The study, published in the Journal of the American College of Surgeons, evaluated the condition of elderly patients 30 days after they underwent emergency surgery.
Previous studies have shown that steps can be taken to improve patient outcomes for elderly people undergoing elective surgery, such as consultation and pre-surgical testing to reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes, aggressive medical management and referrals to clinics that perform high volumes of the most complex procedures.
These options are often not available to elderly patients who require emergency surgery. Researchers suggest that one strategy that could help would be more collaboration with geriatricians. At St. Michael's Trauma Program in Toronto, a geriatrician sees every patient over 60 who experiences a major injury and makes recommendations regarding their care and treatment.
The program has shown significant benefits, with fewer consultation requests to internal medicine and psychiatry, meaning more efficient care, and a reduction in delirium, which can be common among elderly hospital patients, costly, preventable, and associated with higher morbidity and mortality.
And, they have found that fewer elderly patients are being discharged from the hospital to long-term care facilities.
A consumer takeaway from this would be to look for a geriatrician for the care of your loved ones as they age. That person's specialized knowledge coupled with the relationship you develop could be enough to help when emergencies arise.