Type of publication:
Age & Ageing; Nov 2020; vol. 49 (no. 6); p. 936-938
Completing comprehensive geriatric assessments (CGA) for frail patients admitted to acute hospitals has well-established benefits and is advocated by national guidelines. There is high-quality evidence demonstrating an association between inpatient CGAs and the patient being alive and community-dwelling at 12-month follow-up. However, less well-known is the effectiveness of CGAs conducted within the emergency department (ED), with the primary purpose of facilitating admission avoidance, on reducing 30-day reattendance or readmission. This commentary provides an overview of five studies that measure the impact of conducting an ED-CGA on subsequent secondary care attendance. Two randomised-controlled trials, one case-matched cohort study and two quasi-experimental pre- and post-intervention studies were reviewed. The studies reported variable success in preventing subsequent secondary care use. No studies meeting the criteria had been conducted within the UK, affecting generalisability of the findings. There is no clear evidence that conducting a CGA within ED reduced reattendances or admissions 30 days post-discharge. The existing evidence base is methodologically and clinically heterogeneous and is vulnerable to multiple sources of bias. Further research is needed to understand whether screening to identify target populations or whether increased intensity of interventions delivered improves outcomes. ED-CGA may not have a beneficial effect on cost improvement or service delivery metrics, but it may have positive outcomes that are of high importance to the patients. This warrants further study.