Geriatric emergency medicine: A survey of practicing emergency physicians

Robert M. McNamara, Elaine Rousseau, Arthur B. Sanders

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

150 Scopus citations


Study objectives: To evaluate the current status of clinical, educational, social, ethical, and resource issues related to the care of the elderly among practitioners of emergency medicine. Design: A mailed survey instrument. Setting: None. Type of participants: Practicing emergency physicians randomly drawn from the membership list of the American College of Emergency Physicians. Interventions: None. Measurements and main results: A total of 971 surveys were mailed, with 433 useable surveys among the 485 (50%) respondents. The surveyed emergency physicians anticipated a major impact on emergency department patient flow and bed availability in the hospital and ICU as the population ages. For each of seven clinical presentations (abdominal pain, altered mental status, chest pain, dizziness/vertigo, fever without a source, headache, multisystem trauma), 45% or more of the emergency physicians have more difficulty in the management of older compared with younger patients. Most respondents reported that each of these presentations required more time and resources for older patients. The majority believed research, the availability of continuing medical education, and time spent during residency training regarding geriatric emergency medicine was inadequate. Conclusion: Practicing emergency physicians are uncomfortable with elderly patients, and this may reflect the inadequacies of training, research, and continuing education in geriatric emergency medicine.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)796-801
Number of pages6
JournalAnnals of emergency medicine
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 1992


  • geriatrics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine


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