Adults 65 and older made 20.8 million emergency room visits in 2013, up from 16.2 million in 2000, according to the most recent hospital survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The survey found 1 in 6 visits to the ER were made by an older patient, a proportion that’s expected to rise as baby boomers age.
In response to this, US hospitals are bringing palliative care to their emergency departments. Palliative care certifications have been received by 149 emergency physicians, and clinicians are looking at ways to identify ED patients who could benefit from palliative or hospice services. Interest is growing among doctors as well. One hundred forty-nine emergency physicians have become certified in palliative care since that option became available just over a decade ago, and others are working closely with palliative care teams. But efforts to transform the ER face significant challenges, including a lack of time, staffing and expertise, not to mention a culture clash. Click here to read the full story.