Emergency Department Utilization by the Elderly: Analysis of the National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey
Article first published online: 29 SEP 2008
© 1996 Society for Academic Emergency Medicine
Academic Emergency Medicine
Volume 3, Issue 7, pages 694–699, July 1996
How to Cite
Woford, J. L., Schwartz, E., Timerding, B. L., Folmar, S., Ellis, S. D. and Messick, C. H. (1996), Emergency Department Utilization by the Elderly: Analysis of the National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey. Academic Emergency Medicine, 3: 694–699. doi: 10.1111/j.1553-2712.1996.tb03493.x
- Issue published online: 29 SEP 2008
- Article first published online: 29 SEP 2008
- Received: July 11. 1995: revision received: November 20, 1995; accepted: November 27, 1995.
- emergency services;
- ambulatory care;
- geriatric care;
- health services research
Objective: To characterize the ED utilization patterns of the elderly population using nationally representative data.
Methods: A secondary analysis was performed using the National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey (NHAMCS), a nationwide, stratified probability sample of ED encounters. Using these physician-reported data, the demographics, patient complaints, physician diagnoses, and dispositions were compared by age group, i.e., young-old (age 65–84 years) vs old-old (age ±85 years).
Results: The elderly (age ±65 years) represented 5,038 (19.6%) of 25,646 ED encounters for all adults (age ±18 years). The geriatric age groups (ages 65–74, 75–84, and ±85 years) accounted for 45.3%, 37.4%, and 17.2% of all the encounters by the elderly. The proportions of female patients and white patients were higher with increasing age. The proportion of elderly patients hospitalized was 4 times that of younger adults and reflected monotonic increase with increasing age among elders. Patient complaints and physician diagnoses were generally similar for the young-old (65–84 years) and the old-old (±85 years).
Conclusions: These findings are consistent with previous single-center studies of geriatric ED patients. This data source may be useful for investigation of clinical issues related to the care of elderly ED patients.