End-of-life care: A retrospective cohort study of older people who died within 48 hours of presentation to the emergency department

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Sweeny, Amy L
Alsaba, Nemat
Grealish, Laurie
May, Katya
Huang, Ya-Ling
Ranse, Jamie
Denny, Kerina J
Lukin, Bill
Broadbent, Andrew
Burrows, Erin
Ranse, Kristen
Sunny, Linda
Khatri, Meghna
Crilly, Julia
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OBJECTIVES: To describe the characteristics of, and care provided to, older people who died within 48 h of ED presentation. METHODS: A descriptive retrospective cohort study of people 65 years and older presenting to two EDs in Queensland, Australia, between April 2018 and March 2019. Data from electronic medical records were collected and analysed. RESULTS: Two hundred and ninety-five older people who died within 48 h of ED presentation were included. Nearly all arrived by ambulance (92%, n = 272) and 36% (n = 106) were from aged care facilities. Three-quarters (75%, n = 222) were triaged into the most urgent triage categories (i.e. Australasian Triage Scale; ATS 1/2). Fewer than half were previously independent with mobility (38%, n = 111) and activities of daily living (43%, n = 128). Sixty-one per cent (n = 181) had a pre-existing healthcare directive. Twenty-two per cent (n = 66) died in ED, most commonly due to pneumonia, intracerebral haemorrhage, cardiac arrest and/or sepsis. Over half had one or more ED visits (52%, n = 154) and/or hospital admissions (52%, n = 152) 6 months prior. CONCLUSIONS: Identification of patients at end-of-life (EoL) is not always straightforward; consider recent reduction in independence and recent ED visits/hospital admissions. System-based strategies that span pre-hospital, ED and in-patient care are recommended to facilitate EoL pathway implementation and care continuity.

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Emergency Medicine Australasia

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© 2023 The Authors. Emergency Medicine Australasia published by John Wiley & Sons Australia, Ltd on behalf of Australasian College for Emergency Medicine. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution- NonCommercial License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited and is not used for commercial purposes.

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Public health

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emergency service


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Sweeny, AL; Alsaba, N; Grealish, L; May, K; Huang, Y-L; Ranse, J; Denny, KJ; Lukin, B; Broadbent, A; Burrows, E; Ranse, K; Sunny, L; Khatri, M; Crilly, J, End-of-life care: A retrospective cohort study of older people who died within 48 hours of presentation to the emergency department, Emergency Medicine Australasia, 2023