Geriatric adults represent an increasing proportion of emergency department (ED) users, and can be particularly vulnerable to acute illnesses. Health care providers have recently begun to focus upon the development of quality indicators to define a minimal standard of care.
The original objective of this project was to develop additional ED-specific quality indicators for older patients within the domains of medication management, screening and prevention, and functional assessment, but the quantity and quality of evidence was insufficient to justify unequivocal minimal standards of care for these three domains. Accordingly, the authors modified the project objectives to identify key research opportunities within these three domains that can be used to develop quality indicators in the future.
Each domain was assigned one or two content experts who created potential quality indicators (QI) based on a systematic review of the literature, supplemented by expert opinion. Candidate quality indicators were then reviewed by four groups: the Society for Academic Emergency Medicine (SAEM) Geriatric Task Force, the SAEM Geriatric Interest Group, and audiences at the 2008 SAEM Annual Meeting and the 2009 American Geriatrics Society Annual Meeting, using anonymous audience response system technology as well as verbal and written feedback.
High-quality evidence based on patient-oriented outcomes was insufficient or non-existent for all three domains. The participatory audiences did not reach a consensus on any of the proposed QIs. Key research questions for medication management (3), screening and prevention (2), and functional assessment (3) are presented based upon proposed QIs that the majority of participants accepted.
In assessing a minimal standard of care by which to systematically derive geriatric QIs for medication management, screening and prevention, and functional assessment, compelling clinical research evidence is lacking. Patient-oriented research questions that are essential to justify and characterize future quality indicators within these domains are described.