Profiles of older patients in the emergency department: Findings from the interrai multinational emergency department study

Leonard C. Gray, Nancye M. Peel*, Andrew P. Costa, Ellen Burkett, Aparajit B. Dey, Palmi V. Jonsson, Prabha Lakhan, Gunnar Ljunggren, Fredrik Sjostrand, Walter Swoboda, Nathalie I.H. Wellens, John Hirdes

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

68 Citations (Scopus)


Study objective: We examine functional profiles and presence of geriatric syndromes among older patients attending 13 emergency departments (EDs) in 7 nations. Methods: This was a prospective observational study of a convenience sample of patients, aged 75 years and older, recruited sequentially and mainly during normal working hours. Clinical observations were drawn from the interRAI Emergency Department Screener, with assessments performed by trained nurses. Results: A sample of 2,282 patients (range 98 to 549 patients across nations) was recruited. Before becoming unwell, 46% were dependent on others in one or more aspects of personal activities of daily living. This proportion increased to 67% at presentation to the ED. In the ED, 26% exhibited evidence of cognitive impairment, and 49% could not walk without supervision. Recent falls were common (37%). Overall, at least 48% had a geriatric syndrome before becoming unwell, increasing to 78% at presentation to the ED. This pattern was consistent across nations. Conclusion: Functional problems and geriatric syndromes affect the majority of older patients attending the ED, which may have important implications for clinical protocols and design of EDs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)467-474
Number of pages8
JournalAnnals of Emergency Medicine
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2013

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Funding and support: By Annals policy, all authors are required to disclose any and all commercial, financial, and other relationships in any way related to the subject of this article as per ICMJE conflict of interest guidelines (see ). The authors have stated that no such relationships exist. Financial support for this project was provided in some nations, including Australia (Princess Alexandra Hospital Research Foundation), Canada (Canadian Institutes of Health Research), and Germany (Bavarian Ministry of Environment and Health).


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