Age is a Significant Predictor of Hospital Variables for Emergency Department Patients Placed in the Observation Unit
Heitkamp, Alyssa C.
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Observation medicine focuses on the adaption of observation units in hospital emergency departments to avoid difficult dispositions on whether to admit or discharge a patient. As the implementation of observation units grow, a need for condition specific protocols to guide and optimize patient care within these units emerges. Because special populations, such as pediatrics and geriatrics, are a large segment of observation medicine, age as an influence on protocols becomes of question. The aim of the study is to determine if age is a predictor of hospital variables in the emergency department or observation unit. Individual patient data from a Hospital Epic Database was taken over a four-year period to assess hospital variables including length of stay, degree of diagnostic testing, and doses of medication administered. Descriptive statistics and ANOVA were performed to compare relationships between age, length of stay, number of diagnostic blood tests, and doses of medications administered. In all, 24,031 patient’s length of stay and 936 patient’s degree of diagnostic blood testing and doses of medications administered was studied. When comparing geriatric adults to pediatrics their length of stay in the observation unit is three hours longer. Furthermore, degree of diagnostic blood testing is 3.5 times more and doses of medications administered is two times more. Our study suggests there is an association between age, length of stay, diagnostic blood testing, and doses of medications administered. Furthermore, our study supports implementation of condition-specific protocols based on age that may guide and optimize patient care, as well as further study into other influences age might have in observation medicine.