Should elderly patients always be admitted to the hospital?

95-year old patients who go to the emergency department, more likely than not, will get admitted to the hospital.

But is that always what’s best for the patient? Emergency physician Graham Walker suggests not. He notes, correctly, that, “the group with the highest odds of having something seriously wrong with them are probably also the most likely to have something go wrong with them while they’re in the hospital.”

Indeed, hospital complications, like iatrogenic infections and falls, contribute to the morbidity and mortality of hospitalized elderly patients. Combine this with the fact that 90% of Americans surveyed want to die at home, but 80% die in an institution.

How about a simple discussion with both the patient and family about their wishes to be admitted? If no further intervention is desired, simply discharging these patients home may be beneficial for everybody involved.

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