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Keywords:

  • geriatric health services;
  • emergency medicine;
  • outcomes;
  • aged

The current disease-oriented, episodic model of emergency care does not adequately address the complex needs of older adults presenting to emergency departments (EDs). Dedicated ED facilities with a specific organization (e.g., geriatric EDs (GEDs)) have been advocated. One of the few GED experiences in the world is described and its outcomes compared with those of a conventional ED (CED). In a secondary analysis of a prospective observational cohort of 200 acutely ill elderly patients presenting to two urban EDs in Ancona, Italy, identifiers and triage, clinical, and social data were collected and the following outcomes considered: early (30-day) and late (6-month) ED revisit, frequent ED return, hospital admission, and functional decline. Death, functional decline, any ED revisit and any hospital admission were also considered as a composite outcome. Odds ratios and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were calculated. Overall, GED patients were older and frailer than CED patients. The two EDs did not differ in terms of early, late, or frequent ED return or in 6-month hospital admission or functional decline. The mortality rate was slightly but significantly lower in the GED patients (hazard ratio=0.47, 95% CI=0.22–0.99, P=.047). The data suggest noninferiority and, indirectly, a slight superiority for the GED system in the acute care of elderly people, supporting the hypothesis that ED facilities specially designed for older adults may provide better care.