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Updated 09 January 2017

Seniors go downhill once they've been to ER

A new study finds that older adults tend to suffer from disability and decline in physical performance after ending up in the emergency room.

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Seniors treated in a emergency room for illness or injury are more likely to become disabled and less physically agile over the next six months, researchers report.

Determining disability risk

"We know that if older persons go to the hospital and are admitted, they are at increased risk of disability and functional decline. This study shows that patients discharged from the ED [emergency department], meaning that they were deemed well enough to return home, are also at risk for functional decline.

"We should be doing something to address that," study author Dr Justine Nagurney, a resident in emergency medicine at Yale New Haven Hospital, said in a hospital news release.

The new study follows up on previous research that found older adults suffer from disability and declines in physical performance after they're hospitalised.

This time, the researchers tracked more than 700 people 65 and older over 14 years, including some who'd been treated in the emergency room and some who hadn't.

Read: Robots take to the ER

Those who'd been discharged from the emergency room were more likely to be disabled, to be living in a nursing home or to have died over the next six months compared to those who didn't go to the ER.

Nagurney said emergency rooms could do more to determine the disability risks facing these patients and help them. Care transition coordinators and geriatric specialists could help with these assessments, she said.

Read more:

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