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Recent healthcare transitions and emergency department use by chronic long-term care residents: a population-based cohort study


Objectives — Long-term care (LTC) residents commonly experience transitions between healthcare settings that can have important health consequences. The objective of this study was to quantify the effect of recent transitions on the risk of emergency department (ED) transfer among chronic LTC residents. Two types of transitions were considered: admission into LTC and discharge from hospital.

Design — Retrospective cohort study using linked administrative data from Ontario, Canada.

Participants — All chronic LTC residents in Ontario older than 66 years on the date of the 2005 provincial LTC facility census.

Measurements — Using facility census date as baseline, admission to LTC was defined as the number of days between LTC admission and baseline. Residents were categorized as one of: newly admitted (≤30 days), shorter-stay (31-90 days), or longer-stay (≥91 days). Within each group, residents were further subdivided based on having had a recent discharge from hospital. The first ED visit for each resident during the 6-month follow-up was counted, as were death and other competing risks. The cumulative incidence of ED transfer for each group was estimated and logistic regression was used to test whether differences between groups persisted after controlling for resident characteristics.

Results — Of the 64,589 residents, 3.0% were newly admitted, 4.9% were shorter-stay, and 92.1% were longer-stay. The 6-month cumulative incidences of ED transfers were 35.0% for newly admitted, 30.7% for shorter-stay, and 22.0% for longer-stay. The odds of an ED transfer were higher for newly admitted and shorter-stay residents relative to longer-stay residents, even after adjustment for resident characteristics (adjusted odds ratio, 95% confidence interval 1.9, 1.7-2.1; and 1.5, 1.4-1.7, respectively). Regardless of time since LTC admission, residents with a recent discharge from hospital had a cumulative incidence of nearly 40% and an increase in the odds of ED transfer of at least 50% compared with those who had not been in hospital.

Conclusions — Healthcare transitions, especially those from hospital, are associated with an increase in ED transfers among older chronic LTC residents. These findings highlight the need for a stronger focus on transitional care, especially posthospital care, for LTC residents.



Gruneir A, Bronskill S, Bell C, Gill S, Schull M, Ma X, Anderson G, Rochon PA. J Am Med Dir Assoc . 2011; 13(3):202-6. Epub 2011 Nov 6.