The Association Between Nursing Home Resident Characteristics and Transfers to the Emergency Department: A Population-Level Retrospective Cohort Study
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Introduction: Long term care (LTC) residents require complete or extensive support, including 24-hour nursing and personal care. LTC residents contribute a greater number of emergency department (ED) visits when compared to community-dwelling older adults. Little is known about which resident-level characteristics at admission are predictive of LTC resident transfer to the ED. The objective of this thesis was to identify which admission characteristics are associated with ED transfers in Ontario, Canada.
Methodology: I conducted a population-level retrospective cohort study using the Resident Assessment Instrument Minimum Data Set Version 2.0 (RAI-MDS). The cohort included 56,433 LTC resident admission assessments from January 1, 2017, to December 31, 2018. Logistic regression and 10-fold cross-validation were used to identify adjusted associations between characteristics routinely collected during LTC admission assessment and ED transfers. Model performance was assessed using the area under the receiver operating characteristics curve (AUC). Outcomes of interest included any ED use, potentially preventable, and low acuity ED transfers.
Results: A recent change in medical orders, previous ED visitation, female sex, the presence of an indwelling catheter, and the need for oxygen therapy were informative predictors for any, potentially preventable, and low acuity ED transfers. Deterioration in cognitive status and change in behavior was influential to any ED transfers only. Urinary tract infections, pneumonia, indictors of delirium, and change in mood are unique to potentially preventable ED transfers, and antibiotic resistance is unique to low acuity ED transfers. Similar discrimination was reached for any ED use (AUC = 0.630), potentially preventable transfers (AUC = 0.659), and low acuity transfers (AUC = 0.645).
Conclusion: The factors associated with ED transfers may be modifiable, and closer attention to these factors may help reduce ED transfers. Although the discriminability of the models was poor, advanced knowledge of informative characteristics can support upstream decision-making for clinicians. Future studies are required to validate these findings, derive risk scales, and demonstrate the utility of this model in health service planning.
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