The American College of Emergency Physicians has created a voluntary accreditation program to improve the treatment of elderly patients in emergency departments.
Geriatric patients make up a significant percentage of ED admissions yet EDs aren’t equipped with the personnel or resources to appropriately treat them, according to the ACEP. EDs were designed to treat patients with single acute episodes like a heart attack or gunshot wound. But most geriatric patients present with multiple chronic conditions and social needs.
“The needs of frail older adults are much more complex,” said Dr. Kevin Biese, chair of the new ACEP program and co-director of the division of geriatric medicine at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine.
The Geriatric Emergency Department Accreditation program, announced Thursday, requires EDs to have specific policies and procedures in place to care for the geriatric population better. Some EDs have already implemented “geriatric emergency departments,” but ACEP is the first organization to create a standard around what such an ED should look like, Biese said.
Eight EDs across the U.S. currently have the accreditation as part of a pilot phase including five Aurora Health Care hospitals and Mount Sinai Hospital in New York.
There are three ways—or levels—in which an ED can receive designation from the ACEP. Similar to trauma center accreditation, Level 1 is the most comprehensive designation an ED can receive. Each level requires a hospital to staff the ED with a physician and nurse who have education in geriatric medicine.