Medical care for nursing home residents: Differences by dementia status

Lynda C. Burton, Pearl S. German, Ann L. Gruber-Baldini, J. Richard Hebel, Sheryl Zimmerman, Jay Magaziner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

OBJECTIVE: To understand the use of medical services by nursing home residents. DESIGN: Descriptive, longitudinal study comparing medical service use of residents by dementia status and describing the use of medical services following detection of fever or infection. SETTING: Fifty-nine randomly selected nursing homes in Maryland from 1992 to 1995. PARTICIPANTS: 2153 residents admitted to one of 59 randomly selected nursing homes. MEASUREMENT: A panel of psychiatrists and neurologists ascertained dementia based on review of medical records, interview data with significant others and nursing staff, and results of a cognitive exam. Medical service use was abstracted from medical records. BACKGROUND: Understanding the use of medical services by nursing home residents as distinct from services provided by the nursing home is important, particularly as new medical care models are tested. This study compares the medical service use of residents by dementia status and describes the use of medical services following detection of fever or infection. RESULTS: Residents with dementia compared with those without dementia had lower annual rates of physician visits (10.2 vs 12.7, P < .001) and hospitalizations (0.9 vs 1.2, P < .001), virtually the same rate of emergency department visits, and similar lengths of stay in the hospital. Subsequent to infection, a lower proportion of residents with dementia had either a physician visit, an emergency department visit, or a hospital admission compared with residents without dementia (27.2% vs 32.2%, P < .001). In 87% of infections, an antibiotic was used, implying meaningful contact with a physician. Residents with dementia compared with those without dementia had fewer physician visits subsequent to fevers (20.6% vs 29.9%, P < .001) and infections (21.8% vs 27.5%, P < .001). CONCLUSIONS: The association of less medical service use by individuals with dementia compared with those without dementia may reflect differences in health status or implicit end-of-life decision-making and a proclivity toward less-aggressive treatment for these individuals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)142-147
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of the American Geriatrics Society
Volume49
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Dementia
  • Hospitalization
  • Medical service utilization
  • Nursing home
  • Older

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geriatrics and Gerontology

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