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Not all hospitals treat elderly the same
Date:6/3/2011

TORONTO, Ont., June 3, 2011Hospitals that provide quality care for young people do not always provide the same quality care for the elderly, a new study has found.

As our population ages and requires more healthcare, hospitals need to measure the quality of care they provide for the over 65s and implement programs to meet their distinct needs, said the study's author, Dr. Avery Nathens, trauma director at St. Michael's Hospital.

The study, published in the June issue of the Journal of the American College of Surgeons, evaluated the condition of elderly patients 30 days after they underwent emergency surgery. Not surprisingly, it found these patients had a significantly higher risk of serious morbidity and mortality compared to younger patients.

What was surprising was that centers that provided high quality care for the young did not necessarily do so for the elderly. "This suggests that some hospitals put into place something unique that better addresses the needs of elderly patients," said Dr. Nathens. "What's put into place, however, is not quite clear."

Previous studies have shown that steps can be taken to improve patient outcomes for elderly people undergoing elective surgery, such as consultation and pre-surgical testing to reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes, aggressive medical management and, in the United States, referrals to clinics that perform high volumes of the most complex procedures.

These options are not available to elderly patients who require emergency surgery, so hospitals must find other ways of providing them with quality care, Dr. Nathens said.

He said the study speaks to the importance of developing measures that specifically focus on the quality of care delivered to older patients. This study and others have shown that , this is probably one of the only ways we can be certain that the elderly are receiving the care they need.

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Contact: Leslie Shepherd
shepherdl@smh.ca
416-864-6094
St. Michael's Hospital
Source:Eurekalert

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