Hospitals Open Special ERs for Elderly

Special emergency rooms move slower, account for complexities
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 10, 2012 3:30 PM CDT
Many hospitals are opening special ERs just for geriatric patients.   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – America is getting older, and the elderly account for 15% to 20% of emergency room visits, so hospitals have come up with a new way to cater to them: the geriatric ER. Dozens of these facilities are opening across the country, the New York Times reports, looking more like soothing clinics than bustling command centers—the one at Mount Sinai even has a fake sun behind a faux skylight. They've proved wildly popular with patients, which is crucial for hospitals, because under ObamaCare patient satisfaction affects Medicare reimbursement.

Supporters say the slower pace ensures that doctors don't miss anything; many seniors are on a host of medications, complicating their care. One hospital says it's seen unscheduled ER return visits fall from 20% to 1%. But some decry geriatric ERs as marketing gimmicks. "What's the best outcome for the patient?" asked one chief of emergency services. "I don't miss your diagnosis, I treat you appropriately … or, I miss all of those things, but son of a gun, we look like the Four Seasons."

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