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Medical News & Perspectives
June 11, 2008

Experts Predict Visits by Baby Boomers Will Soon Strain Emergency Departments

JAMA. 2008;299(22):2613-2614. doi:10.1001/jama.299.22.2613

Emergency departments are well-accustomed to seeing patients across the entire age spectrum, but more and more individuals aged 65 years or older are now seeking care in that setting. Experts say the situation could lead to increased overcrowding and compromised care for all patients.

“Continuing the trend for elderly patients over the next few years could cause the emergency care system to collapse,” said Mary Pat McKay, MD, of the George Washington University Medical Center in Washington, DC. McKay and colleagues recently reported statistics indicating that visits by patients aged 65 to 74 years increased 34% from 1993 to 2003 (Roberts DC et al. Ann Emerg Med. 10.1016/j.annemergmed [published online ahead of print December 5, 2007]), the greatest increase among all age groups. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also has reported disproportionate increases in rates of emergency department visits among individuals aged 65 years or older.