Brief Report| Volume 22, ISSUE 4, P913-917.e2, April 2021

Characterizing Emergency Department Use in Assisted Living



      Little is known about emergency department (ED) utilization among the nearly 1 million older adults residing in assisted living (AL) settings. Unlike federally regulated nursing homes, states create and enforce AL regulations with great variability, which may affect the quality of care provided. The objective of this study was to examine state variability in all-cause and injury-related ED use among residents in AL.


      Observational retrospective cohort study.

      Setting and Participants

      We identified a cohort of 293,336 traditional Medicare beneficiaries residing in larger AL communities (25+ beds).


      With Medicare enrollment and claims data, we identified ED visits and classified those because of injury. We present rates of all-cause and injury-related ED use per 100 person-years in AL, by state, adjusting for age, sex, race, dual-eligibility, and chronic conditions.


      Risk-adjusted state rates of all-cause ED visits ranged from 100.9 visits/100 AL person-years [95% confidence interval (CI) 92.8, 109.9] in New Mexico to 162.3 visits/100 AL person-years (95% CI 154.0, 174.7) in Rhode Island. The risk-adjusted rate of injury-related ED visits ranged from 18.7 visits/100 AL person-years (95% CI 17.2, 20.3) in New Mexico to 35.7 visits/100 AL person-years (95% CI 34.7, 36.8) in North Carolina.

      Conclusions and Implications

      We observed significant variability among states in all-cause and injury-related ED use among AL residents. There is an urgent need to better understand why this variability is occurring to prevent avoidable visits to the ED.


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