Ten ways to improve the care of elderly patients in the hospital

Authors

  • Angelena Maria Labella MD,

    1. Division of General Internal Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington
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  • Susan Eva Merel MD,

    Corresponding author
    1. Division of General Internal Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington
    • University of Washington Medical Center, 1959 NE Pacific Street, Box 356429, Seattle, WA 98195-6429
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    • Telephone: 206-616-4088 (office); Fax: 206-616-5365

  • Elizabeth Anne Phelan MD, MS

    1. Division of Gerontology and Geriatric Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington
    2. Department of Health Services, School of Public Health, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington
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  • Disclosure: Nothing to report.

Abstract

Hospitalists care for elderly patients daily, but few have specialized training in geriatric medicine. Elderly patients, and in particular the very old and the frail elderly, are at high risk of functional decline and iatrogenic complications during hospitalization. Other challenges in caring for this patient population include dosing medications safely, preventing delirium and accidental falls, and providing adequate pain control. Ways to improve the care of the hospitalized elderly patient include the following: screening for geriatric syndromes such as delirium, assessing functional status and maintaining mobility, and implementation of interventions that have been shown to prevent delirium, accidental falls, and acute functional decline in the hospital. This article addresses these issues with 10 evidence-based pearls developed to help hospitalists provide optimal care for this expanding population. Journal of Hospital Medicine 2011;6:351–357. © 2011 Society of Hospital Medicine

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