Every single day, thousands of elderly nursing home patients are subjected to disorienting and costly transfers to the Emergency Department for health challenges that could potentially be treated in place, if the resources were in place to do so.
Nearly one out of every five ambulance transfers to the ED come from nursing homes. These are often chronically ill, medically complex patients with acute medical needs. The chaos of the ambulance trip causes additional mental and physical distress. They arrive at the hospital alone and are forced to bear the burden of interacting with a new set of “clinical strangers” who are unfamiliar with their symptoms. They’re often put in beds in the hallway and left alone. Frail, vulnerable, elderly patients are simply ignored.
It doesn’t happen because clinicians don’t care or anyone wants these patients to be suffering the loneliness and isolation of the hallway ED, it happens because we have a system that’s broken. One area where politicians can and should be able to find common ground is value-based care arrangements, which have proven to be better for patient care and less costly for the healthcare system.