International Psychogeriatrics



Research and Reviews

The Effect of Dementia on Acute Care in a Geriatric Medical Unit


Lucia Torian a1a4c1, Emily Davidson a1, George Fulop a2, Laura Sell a3 and Howard Fillit a1
a1 Ritter Department of Geriatrics and Adult Development, Mount Sinai Medical Center, City University of New York, New York, U. S. A.
a2 Department of Psychiatry, Mount Sinai Medical Center, City University of New York, New York, U. S. A.
a3 Department of Nursing, Mount Sinai Medical Center, City University of New York, New York, U. S. A.
a4 Brookdale Center on Aging, City University of New York, New York, U. S. A.

Article author query
torian l   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 
davidson e   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 
fulop g   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 
sell l   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 
fillit h   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 

Abstract

Treatment of dementia costs billions of dollars in long-term care and community services every year. Dementia also burdens the acute care system and may contribute to financial problems for hospitals serving large numbers of demented elderly. In a specialized geriatric medical unit devoted to acute care of the frail elderly, Alzheimer's disease and vascular and mixed dementias afflicted 63% of inpatients and were associated with excess consumption of nursing resources, complications of treatment, nosocomial infections, lengthy hospitalizations, and financial losses to the hospital. Due in part to the effects of dementia on mobility, continence, and nutrition, demented patients suffered more frequently from life-threatening infections, sepsis, iatrogenic disease, and prolonged hospital stays. Hospital losses were 75% higher for demented patients than for nondemented patients.

Dementia affected the majority of acute care patients in this study. However, it was rarely coded as an admitting diagnosis, even though it may have been the proximate cause of the medical morbidity which led to the acute hospitalization. In addition, despite the significant impact of dementia on the hospital course and costs, it was a factor in hospital reimbursement in less than one third of cases. The results indicate that dementia was not considered to be an acute diagnosis, nor was it recognized as a complex medical illness. The impact of dementia on acute hospitalization, including the mechanisms by which dementia prolongs the hospital stay, requires further investigation.


Correspondence:
c1 Correspondence. Direct correspondence to Dr. Lucia Torian, HIV Serosurvey Program, New York City Department of Health, 346 Broadway, New York, NY 10013, U.S.A.