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Rev Clin Esp. 1997 May;197(5):336-40.

[Detection of cognitive deterioration in elderly patients attending an emergency hospital service].

[Article in Spanish]

Author information

  • 1Servicio de Urgencias, Clínica Puerta de Hierro, Madrid.



An increasing proportion of patients attended at hospital emergence departments (HED) are elderly people.


a) To check the reliability of the usual medical assessment to detect the cognitive deterioration in elderly people attended at HED, compared with that performed systematically by means of an evaluation test of cognitive functions; b) to study the applicability of such a test in HED, on the basis of the time necessary for its administration, and c) to describe the deterioration prevalence in that group of patients and identify the possible associated risks for its detection in patients.


Prospective study including patients aged > or = 60 years attended at a HED, using the orientation, memory and concentration test (OMC) to perform the cognitive assessment.


A total of 352 patients who had no exclusion criteria out of the 536 attended during the study period were included. Cognitive deterioration was not detected in 111 patients (31.5%); it was mild in 147 (41.8%), moderate in 71 (20.2%) and severe in 23 (6.5%). In patients with moderate-severe deterioration according to the OMC test, such a deterioration was detected by the usual medical evaluation in 7% of cases. The mean time in completing the test was 2.6 +/- 0.9 minutes. An age > or = 80 years was associated with an increased relative risk for detecting moderate-severe cognitive deterioration (1.98; 95% CI, 1.42-2.78; p < 0.001), whereas the discharge diagnosis of respiratory disease was associated with a decrease of the relative risk (0.41; 95% CI, 0.19-0.89; p < 0.05). No association was observed with other factors, such as gender, home residence or final destination from the emergency department.


The prevalence of cognitive deterioration in elderly people attended at HED is high and increases with age. The OMC test can be administered at HED to detect cognitive deterioration, which is not frequently detected by the usual medical assessment.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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