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Emergency room visits risky for elderly residents from long-term care facilities

This press release is available in French.

Montreal -- Elderly patients who have visited an emergency department (ED) are three times more likely to develop respiratory or gastrointestinal infections in the week following their return to a long-term care facility, such as a Centre d'Hbergement de Soins de Longue Dure (CHLSD). These are the findings of a new Canadian study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal today.

"There certainly seems to be a benefit to isolating residents in the 7 days following their return to a long-term care facility, said Dr. Caroline Quach, an infectious disease specialist from the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) and the Research Institute of the MUHC and lead author of the study. "In addition to endangering other resident's health, outbreaks generate a significant workload and financial cost to the healthcare facility."

The study, which was conducted from September 2006 to May 2008, involved more than 1200 residents of 22 different long-term care facilities in Quebec and Ontario. ED visits took place during the winter months, when respiratory and gastrointestinal infections are most likely. "Following their visit to the ED during the winter, residents were three times more likely to develop symptoms of new infection, and this only in the absence of other infectious disease outbreaks in their CHLSDs," said Dr. Quach.

"Our challenge as health professionals is to enhance our ongoing efforts in the implementation of and adherence to, infection control policies. We also may want to take further infection control measures upon the return of residents in CHLSDs," explained Dr. Quach.

"Infection control has been a major priority in our planning for the Glen site," concluded Jean-Marc Troquet, chief of emergency medicine at the MUHC adult sites. "The results of this study confirm what we all suspected and validate our decision to design the ED at the Glen with individual patient rooms."

Contact: Julie Robert
514-934-1934 x71381
McGill University Health Centre

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