APA: Psychiatric Emergency Department Visits Up in Elderly

Length of hospital stay also found to be longer in elderly than younger patients

TUESDAY, May 17 (HealthDay News) -- Psychiatric emergency department (ED) visits have increased among elderly patients in Hawaii, and hospital length of stay (LOS) appears to be longer among elderly patients than among younger patients, according to research presented at the annual meeting of the American Psychiatric Association, held from May 14 to 18 in Honolulu.

Brett Lu, M.D., of the University of Hawaii in Honolulu, and colleagues tracked LOS and age of 14,402 patients triaged to the psychiatry section of the Queen's Medical Center ED in Honolulu between 2007 and the present. Of these patients, 787 were aged 65 or older.

The data revealed an increasing percentage of psychiatric ED visits by older patients from year to year, with the largest increase (30 percent) from 2008 to 2009. In addition, LOS was a median of 403 minutes for older patients as compared to a median of 357 minutes for younger patients.

"These results suggest that the expected mental health crisis in the elderly is increasingly salient in their growing psychiatric ED utilization, reflecting the difficulty in securing needed services elsewhere and placing an even greater strain on limited ED resources," the authors write.

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