Patterns of Emergency Department Use Among Long-Stay Nursing Home Residents With Differing Levels of Dementia Severity

Michael A. LaMantia, Kathleen A. Lane, Wanzhu Tu, Jennifer L. Carnahan, Frank Messina, Kathleen T. Unroe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

17 Scopus citations


Objectives: To describe emergency department (ED) utilization among long-stay nursing home residents with different levels of dementia severity. Design: Retrospective cohort study. Setting: Public Health System. Participants: A total of 4491 older adults (age 65 years and older) who were long-stay nursing home residents. Measurements: Patient demographics, dementia severity, comorbidities, ED visits, ED disposition decisions, and discharge diagnoses. Results: Forty-seven percent of all long-stay nursing home residents experienced at least 1 transfer to the ED over the course of a year. At their first ED transfer, 36.4% of the participants were admitted to the hospital, whereas 63.1% of those who visited the ED were not. The median time to first ED visit for the participants with advanced stage dementia was 258 days, whereas it was 250 days for the participants with early to moderate stage dementia and 202 days for the participants with no dementia (P = .0034). Multivariate proportional hazard modeling showed that age, race, number of comorbidities, number of hospitalizations in the year prior, and do not resuscitate status all significantly influenced participants' time to first ED visit (P < .05 for all). After accounting for these effects, dementia severity (P = .66), years in nursing home before qualification (P = .46), and gender (P = .36) lost their significance. Conclusions: This study confirms high rates of transfer of long-stay nursing home residents, with nearly one-half of the participants experiencing at least 1 ED visit over the course of a year. Although dementia severity is not a predictor of time to ED use in our analyses, other factors that influence ED use are readily identifiable. Nursing home providers should be aware of these factors when developing strategies that meet patient care goals and avoid transfer from the nursing home to the ED.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)541-546
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of the American Medical Directors Association
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1 2016


  • Emergency department
  • Nursing home
  • Transitions

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nursing(all)
  • Health Policy
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology

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