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Physician and Nurse Acceptance of Technicians to Screen for Geriatric Syndromes in the Emergency Department

  • Author(s): Carpenter, Chris
  • Griffey, Richard T
  • Stark, Susan
  • Coopersmith, Craig M
  • Gage, Brian F
  • et al.
Abstract

Introduction: The objective of this study was to evaluate emergency medicine physician and nurse acceptance of nonnurse, nonphysician screening for geriatric syndromes.

Methods: This was a single-center emergency department (ED) survey of physicians and nurses after an 8-month project. Geriatric technicians were paid medical student research assistants evaluating consenting ED patients older than 65 years for cognitive dysfunction, fall risk, or functional decline. The primary objective of this anonymous survey was to evaluate ED nurse and physician perceptions about the geriatric screener feasibility and barriers to implementation. In addition, as a secondary objective, respondents reported ongoing geriatric screening efforts independent of the research screeners.

Results: The survey was completed by 72% of physicians and 33% of nurses. Most nurses and physicians identified geriatric technicians as beneficial to patients without impeding ED throughput. Fewer than 25% of physicians routinely screen for any geriatric syndromes. Nurses evaluated for fall risk significantly more often than physicians, but no other significant differences were noted in ongoing screening efforts.

Conclusion: Dedicated geriatric technicians are perceived by nurses and physicians as beneficial to patients with the potential to improve patient safety and clinical outcomes. Most nurses and physicians are not currently screening for any geriatric syndromes. [West J Emerg Med. 2011;12(4):489–495.]

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