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Keywords:

  • elderly;
  • emergency;
  • non-acute;
  • over 65 years of age

Oates J, Heslop L, Boord N. International Journal of Nursing Practice 1997; 3: 166–172

The elderly adult in the emergency department

Over 65-year olds were nominated by emergency staff at a Melbourne regional hospital as a patient group of particular concern. With nurse academics from Monash University, a collaborative study was undertaken of elderly patients and the circumstances of their attendance. The focus of the study was on those elderly patients who were triaged as non-acute and who may have been disadvantaged by the priority given to acute cases. The triage records obtained over a 5 month period were analyzed, and a survey administered to selected patients. Over 65-year olds were found to constitute 19% of incoming patients. They figured more prominently in urgent triage categories than those under 65 years of age, were more likely to be referred by a health professional, and more likely to be admitted or transferred. There was no evidence to suggest slower progress through the emergency department for the non-acute elderly than for their counterparts under 65 years of age.