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Keywords:

  • geriatric care;
  • primary care;
  • nursing home;
  • emergency department

Objectives

To determine whether community-dwelling individuals and nursing home (NH) residents treated by a geriatrician were less likely to use the emergency department (ED) than individuals treated by other physicians.

Design

Retrospective cohort study using data from a national sample of older adults with a history of cardiovascular disease.

Setting

Ambulatory care or NH.

Participants

Fee-for-service Medicare beneficiaries aged 66 and older diagnosed with one or more geriatric conditions from 2004 to 2007 and followed for up to 3 years.

Measurements

Emergency department use was measured in Medicare inpatient and outpatient claims; geriatric care was measured as geriatrician visits in ambulatory or NH settings coded in physician claims.

Results

Multivariable analyses controlled for observed and unobserved subject characteristics that were constant during the study period. For community-dwelling participants, one or more nonhospital geriatrician visits in a 6-month period were associated with 11.3% lower ED use the following month (95% confidence interval (CI) = 7.5–15.0, N = 287,259). Participants who received primary care from geriatricians were less likely to have ED use than those who had traditional primary care. Results for participants who received consultative care from geriatricians were similar to those for participants who received primary care from geriatricians. Results for NH residents (N = 66,551) were similar to those for community-dwelling participants.

Conclusion

Geriatric care was associated with an estimated 108 fewer ED visits per 1,000 community-dwelling residents and 133 fewer ED visits per 1,000 NH residents per year. Geriatric consultative care in collaboration with primary care providers may be as effective in reducing ED use as geriatric primary care. Increased provision of collaborative care could allow the existing supply of geriatricians to reach a larger number of individuals.