Study: Emergency visits increase risk of infections for long-term care residents

February 10, 2012

There was an increased risk of acute infection among long-term care residents who visited hospital emergency departments, according to a study published online January 23 in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.

There was an increased risk of acute infection among long-term care residents who visited hospital emergency departments (ED), according to a study published online January 23 in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.

Lead author Caroline Quach, MD, MSc, and several other researchers compared the rates of new respiratory and gastrointestinal infections among long-term care facility residents aged 65 years and older.

“Elderly residents of long-term care facilities are likely to be at the greatest risk of morbidity and mortality from communicable disease acquired in the emergency department. When residents are transferred to the emergency department for assessment, they are likely to have longer stays and be cared for in multi-bed observation areas and corridors,” Dr Quach wrote.

The researchers found that new infections were acquired by 21 (5%) of the 424 residents who visited the ED versus infections in 17 (2%) of the 845 residents who did not visit the ED.

“Considerations should be given to the implementation of additional precautions for residents for 5 to 7 days after their return from the emergency department,” Dr Quach wrote.

But the authors also said that further research is required to identify specific sources of transmission in the ED and to monitor for the presence and compliance to infection control guidelines and policies.