Traumatic injuries (such as falls or motor vehicle collisions) happen to people at any age, but statistics show that when an older adult is hospitalized after a serious injury, complication rates are generally higher compared to those of younger patients.
If you are an older adult and suffer a traumatic injury, it is important that any treatment program takes into account your age and any pre-existing conditions. Allegheny Health Network (AHN) has created a Geriatric Trauma program to ensure that older-adult patients receive the best care possible focused toward their specific needs.
AHN’s Geriatric Trauma program is using geriatric-specific protocols to guide older-adult trauma patients and their families through the entire hospitalization process, from initial evaluation to discharge, and provides specialized treatment to ensure the best possible care with the fewest possible complications.
Here is how each stage of your stay at an AHN facility has been developed to specifically cater to your needs:
The initial evaluation for the older adult is the same for any injured patient (including taking a medical history and measuring patient’s vitals), but with additional focus on:
- Determining medications that could affect care (Coumadin, beta blockers, etc.).
- Considering common, non-traumatic events that could complicate treatment, which may be influenced by the patient’s age (such as dehydration, acute renal failure, or pneumonia).
Specialized Geriatric Inpatient Care
A proactive geriatric consultation includes a comprehensive geriatric assessment (CGA), which is a multi-faceted evaluation that collects information about the capabilities and limitations of elderly patients.
Prospective Geriatric Trauma patients will undergo a screening. If you answer "yes" to two or more of the following questions, a patient should undergo a geriatric consultation:
- Before you were injured, did you need someone to care for you on a regular basis?
- Since your injury, have you needed more help than usual taking care of yourself?
- Have you been hospitalized for one or more nights for the past six months?
- In general, do you have problems seeing well?
- In general, do you have serious problems with your memory?
- Do you take more than three different medications every day?
Patient Decision-Making Capacity and Care Preferences
With older adult trauma patients, it is possible that families and patients can find themselves in a situation where the patient’s health and subsequent quality of life suddenly are placed in jeopardy. Geriatric Trauma works to ensure that, should the situation arise, necessary decision-making and end-of-life capabilities exist.
Allegheny Health Network’s Geriatric Trauma care helps ease some of this burden and confusion by:
- Discussing and documenting patient’s priorities and preferences regarding treatment options, advanced directives/living will, post injury complications, etc. with the family, surrogates, and the patient.
- Holding a family meeting within 72 hours of admission to discuss care goals.
Geriatric Patient Discharge
When discharging an older adult patient who has had a traumatic injury, the Geriatric Trauma program assesses discharge-planning early in the patient’s hospitalization. These discharge plans focus on the patient’s current home environment, social support, and possible needs for medical equipment and/or home health services. If home health services are needed, Geriatric Trauma will work with Allegheny Health Network’s Healthcare@Home initiative to provide the necessary services.
The Healthcare@Home program helps many patients to maintain their independence and continue the healing process at home as long as possible. Healthcare@Home helps arrange for a variety of services for your home recovery, including home health, hospice, palliative and infusion therapy services, as well as the delivery of medical equipment and supplies.
Upon discharge, Geriatric Trauma representatives will speak with the patient’s primary care physician and will arrange for a follow-up phone call or home health visit with the patient within three days of discharge.
Allegheny Health Network cares about each of our patients, and we want to ensure the best possible care for everyone. The Geriatric Trauma program provides specialized treatment for older-adult patients to help decrease the possible complications involved with geriatric trauma patients. Make sure that you or your loved ones receive the best possible care specific to your needs.