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Aging (Milano). 1995 Feb;7(1):55-60.

A geriatric assessment and intervention team for hospital inpatients awaiting transfer to a geriatric unit: a randomized trial.

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Department of Geriatric Medicine, Hôtel-Dieu Hospital, Sherbrooke, Quebec, Canada.


The objective of this study, designed as a randomized controlled trial, was to decrease the length-of-stay (LOS) of hospitalized patients on a waiting list for admission to an inpatient geriatric assessment unit (GAU), and to optimize use of the GAU and other hospital services. The participants included 108 elderly, functionally impaired inpatients referred for geriatric consultation, and appropriate for GAU admission, stratified into high and low ADL functioning groups. They were admitted to a 354-bed acute hospital, with a 31-bed long-stay ward and a 15-bed GAU; a 25-30 day delay occurred between screening and admission of inpatients to the GAU. Experimental subjects (N = 25) received the consultative services of a geriatric assessment and intervention team (GAIT) immediately after being qualified for GAU admission, in place of waiting for GAU services. Controls (N = 52) received usual hospital care until admitted to the GAU. While high-function patients randomized to the GAIT had significantly shorter hospital LOS than comparable controls (41.4 vs 56.5 days; p = 0.03), LOS reduction was even greater in the low-function stratum (44.5 vs 74.5 days; p = 0.001). Further, significantly more GAIT than control patients were discharged home (28% vs 11%; p = 0.044). A trend toward reduced mortality in the GAIT group was non-significant. We conclude that for Canadian hospitals in which extensive stays of frail elderly patients, "bed blockage", and thus access to unit-based geriatric services are common problems, the GAIT can efficiently decrease hospital LOS, increase home placement, and may improve outcomes.

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