Emergency department discharge diagnosis and adverse health outcomes in older adults.

Journal Article

OBJECTIVES: To determine the relationship between the reason for an emergency department (ED) visit and subsequent risk of adverse health outcomes in older adults discharged from the ED. DESIGN: Secondary analysis of data from the Medicare Current Beneficiary Survey. SETTING: ED. PARTICIPANTS: One thousand eight hundred fifty-one community-dwelling Medicare fee-for-service enrollees aged 65 and older discharged from the ED between January 2000 and September 2002. MEASUREMENTS: Independent variables were ED discharge diagnosis groups: injury or musculoskeletal (MSK) (e.g., fracture, open wound), chronic condition (e.g., chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder, heart failure), infection, non-MSK symptom (e.g., chest pain, abdominal pain), and unclassified. Adverse health outcomes were hospitalization or death within 30 days of the index ED visit. RESULTS: Injury or MSK was the largest ED diagnosis group (31.4%), followed by non-MSK symptom (22.2%), chronic condition (20.9%), and infection (7.8%); 338 (17.8%) had ED discharge diagnoses that were unclassified. In adjusted analyses, a discharge diagnosis of injury or MSK condition was associated with lower risk of subsequent adverse health outcomes (hazard ratio (HR)=0.69, 95% confidence interval (CI)=0.50-0.96) than for all other diagnosis groups. Patients seen in the ED for chronic conditions were at greater risk of adverse outcomes (HR=1.86, 95% CI=1.37-2.52) than all others. There were no significant differences in risk between patients with infections, those with non-MSK symptoms, and the unclassified group. CONCLUSION: Adverse health outcomes were common in older patients with an ED discharge diagnosis classified as a chronic condition. ED discharge diagnosis may improve risk assessment and inform the development of targeted interventions to reduce adverse health outcomes in older adults discharged from the ED.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Hastings, SN; Whitson, HE; Purser, JL; Sloane, RJ; Johnson, KS

Published Date

  • October 2009

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 57 / 10

Start / End Page

  • 1856 - 1861

PubMed ID

  • 19694872

Pubmed Central ID

  • 19694872

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1532-5415

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1111/j.1532-5415.2009.02434.x


  • eng

Conference Location

  • United States