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Geriatric ERs Can Now Win Accreditation

Hospitals must meet requirements on staffing and supplies to qualify

Woman and man speaking in hospital room

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Older patients may have multiple health problems that require lengthier evaluation in the emergency department.

The American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) is launching a program to award accreditation for geriatric care in emergency rooms.

“Aging baby boomers will increase the number of [emergency room] patients every year for the next few decades,” ACEP stated in a news release. “Vulnerable older patients” often show up in the ER with multiple health problems that “require more complex decision-making and prolonged evaluation times.”

The accreditation will be at three levels. The most stringent will require geriatric ERs to be staffed by physicians and nurses with specific geriatric medical education. Among other requirements will be “supplies including walkers, canes, low beds, hearing-assist devices, pressure ulcer reducing pillows and handrails,” according to the publication Modern Healthcare.

“The needs of frail older adults are much more complex," Kevin Biese, chair of the program and codirector of the division of geriatric medicine at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine, told Modern Healthcare.

"Our goal is to really work with the great doctors and nurses that are in the EDs already and devise plans to make the care better today," Biese said. "This isn't just for big, fancy emergency departments."

“Success depends upon giving the emergency department needed support and hospital resources to ensure more comprehensive geriatric evaluations and timely access to follow-up care,” ACEP said in its statement. “Once a hospital commits to support credentialing an emergency department as geriatric-centered, the expectation is that the hospital will also provide and sustain the resources to effect those changes.”