October 25, 2017

Study: Hospital ERs need improvement in treating older adults with cancer

A new study finds older adults with cancer are more likely than those without cancer to be admitted from the emergency department, even though experts say admission isn't always the best course of action.

According to the National Comprehensive Cancer Network, which published the study, observation status is often preferable for cancer patients because it minimizes risks to patients while preserving hospital resources. But researchers at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York found there were only 43 observation status visits per 1,000 inpatient admissions, compared to 69 per 1,000 among a cancer-free group of patients.

The study focused on Medicare beneficiaries aged 66 and older, using Medicare data for 151,193 patients with cancer, and a similar-sized control group.

"Not all acutely ill patients in the emergency department will ultimately require inpatient admission prior to safe discharge. Patients in observation status should be suitable for rapid discharge once symptoms resolve or diagnoses are confirmed," Dr. Jeffrey Groeger, one of the researchers, said in a statement.

Hospital readmissions are one measure by which the U.S. Centers for Medicaid and Medicare reimburse hospitals, with higher rates 30 days after discharge equalling lower reimbursement for Medicare patients.

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