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Next day telephone follow up of the elderly: a needs assessment and critical incident monitoring tool for the accident and emergency department
  1. H D M Poncia,
  2. J Ryan,
  3. M Carver
  1. Department of Accident and Emergency Medicine, Royal Sussex County Hospital, Eastern Road, Brighton BN2 5BE
  1. Correspondence to: Mr Ryan (ryanj{at}


Background—Patients over the age of 75 years comprise an increasing proportion of accident and emergency (A&E) department attendances. Within this group there is a high incidence of comorbidity, which mandates effective discharge coordination from the A&E department.

Objectives—The aims of this study were to assess the needs of these patients the day after discharge, target patients for appropriate interventions and identify critical incidents.

Setting—The study was undertaken in a district general hospital A&E department that has 62 000 new patient attendances per year.

Inclusion criteria—Patients aged 75 years or over who were discharged from the A&E department.

Exclusion criteria—Nursing home patients. Patients without a telephone.

Study design—Pre-discharge information was collected from the medical notes. A community liaison nurse (CLN) then contacted patients by telephone. A semi-structured questionnaire was used to assess patients. Patients were risk stratified and appropriate interventions made. Interventions initiated by the CLN were scored from 1 to 6 based on the level of input required.

Results—551 patients or their carers were contacted by telephone. Existing home support was felt to be insufficient in 44 (8%) cases and in need of immediate intervention in a further 45 (8%) cases. Sixty five (11%) Category 1 patients required no intervention, 223 (42%) Category 2 patients required advice only, 107 (19%) Category 3 patients were referred to their GP, 127 (23%) Category 4 patients required a domicillary visit by a GP or a nurse, 26 (5%) Category 5 patients were at risk requiring urgent home assessment and three Category 6 patients had to re-attend A&E. Advice was given by the CLN on a broad range of issues and a wide range of health care services was accessed. Five hundred and fifty nine referrals were made by the CLN after telephone assessment.

Conclusions—Telephone follow up of patients over 75 attending our A&E department identified a number of areas where care could be improved before and after discharge. This low cost, high quality intervention has the potential for decreasing inappropriate return visits to the department by a vulnerable group of patients as well as improving overall quality of care.

  • elderly
  • telephone follow up

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  • * Critical incident: any event that caused or had the potential of causing an adverse clinical outcome.

  • Funding: none.

  • Conflicts of interest: none.