Emergency department utilisation by the elderly

Ian Lamb, David Eddey, Peter Cameron

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


To assess the present utilisation of emergency services by the elderly in Geelong and to estimate the impact on these services of the projected increase in the elderly population. The Geelong Hospital is a 450 bed community teaching hospital incorporating paediatric and obstetric units. It serves a population of approximately 250,000 residents covering urban and rural areas. Analysis of computerised emergency department attendance records was undertaken covering a two year period from 1 August 1992 until 31 July 1994. Comparison with Australian Bureau of Statistics data for the region was made. For the purpose of this study “elderly” refers to 65 years and over. This group was compared with the younger population of patients including children. Of all emergency department visits 16.8% are accounted for by the 65 and over age group (Confidence interval 16.4–17.2% p<0.01). This group makes up 13% of the catchment area population. Of elderly patients attending the emergency department 59% are admitted as opposed to 19.7% of the younger group (odds ratio 3.79 Confidence interval 3.64–3.96 p<0.05). Of elderly patients admitted, 5.3% were admitted to the coronary care unit and 1.2% to the intensive care unit. This compares with 1.1% (odds ratio 5.03 Confidence interval 4.49–5.64 p<0.05) and 0.6% respectively (odds ratio 2.01 Confidence interval 1.64–2.45 p<0.05) for the younger group. The elderly patient is five times more likely to arrive by ambulance than the younger patient. The elderly population are more likely to use ambulance services, more likely to attend the emergency department, more likely to require admission and more likely to require admission to a critical care area than the younger population. As the number of people over 65 increases, the consequent increase in workload will need to be addressed. 1995 Australasian College for Emergency Medicine and Australasian Society for Emergency Medicine

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)75-80
Number of pages6
JournalEmergency Medicine
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 1995
Externally publishedYes

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