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Early Signs Forecast Length of Hospital Stays by Elderly

Cognitively impaired elderly are 2.2 times more likely than unimpaired to stay beyond 30 days

THURSDAY, July 13 (HealthDay News) -- Walking difficulties, cognitive impairment and other problems are early predictors of prolonged hospital stays by elderly patients, researchers report in the July issue of the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

Pierre-Olivier Lang, M.D., of Hopital de la Robertsau in Strasbourg, France, and colleagues studied 908 emergency hospitalizations by patients 75 and older in nine hospitals in France.

The researchers found that 138 stays lasted beyond 30 days and that 46 lasted beyond French diagnostic classification limits. Sociodemographic factors did not affect length of stay.

Cognitively impaired elderly were 2.2 times more likely to stay beyond 30 days than the unimpaired. Those with walking problems were 2.6 times more likely to stay longer under the French classification system than unimpaired walkers. Early markers for prolonged stays were a tendency to be prone to falls (odds ratio, 2.5), presence of cognitive impairment (OR, 7.1) or a risk of malnutrition (OR, 2.5).

"When the generally recognized parameters of frailty are taken into account, a set of simple items (walking difficulties, risk of fall, risk of malnutrition, and cognitive impairment) enables a predictive approach to the length of stay of elderly patients hospitalized under emergency circumstances," the authors write.

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