Secondary Assessment of Life-Threatening Conditions of Older Patients

  • Hubert BlainEmail author
  • Abdelouahab Bellou
  • Mehmet Akif Karamercan
  • Jacques Boddaert


People aged 65 years and older have higher rate of emergency department (ED) use than other age groups. Critically ill older ED people have specific characteristics. Older patients with life-threatening conditions often present with atypical signs and symptoms unspecific of the altered organ or tissue, and often usual severity criteria are missing. Some symptoms such as delirium, faintness, general malaise, digestive problems, fatigue, balance impairments, or falls can be incorrectly regarded as mild, whereas they are the only sign of a life-threatening condition. Even small initial insults in patients with multisystem deterioration and loss of physiological reserve (frailty) can induce a disabling cascade of adverse effects, called the “domino” effect, which can threaten the life of older patients. Determining whether the older patient is frail, i.e., his (her) medical, psychological, and functional ability to cope with the acute condition, is therefore crucial in older ED patients for optimizing therapeutic options and anticipating treatment adverse effects. Ethical consideration and whether the patient has an advanced directive, health-care power of attorney, or living will on admission are also crucial parts of the assessment of older ED patients. The present chapter displays a model of geriatric secondary assessment adapted to critically ill older ED patients that takes into account the above specificities and particular needs of these patients.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hubert Blain
    • 1
    Email author
  • Abdelouahab Bellou
    • 2
  • Mehmet Akif Karamercan
    • 3
  • Jacques Boddaert
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of Internal Medicine and Geriatrics, Faculty of MedicineUniversity Hospital of Montpelier, Montpellier University, MacVia-LRMontpelierFrance
  2. 2.Department of Emergency MedicineBeth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical SchoolBostonUSA
  3. 3.Emergency Medicine DepartmentGazi University School of MedicineAnkaraTurkey
  4. 4.Unit of Peri-Operative Geriatric Care (UPOG), Geriatric Department Pitié-Salpêtrière Hospital47-83 Bd de l’Hôpital (APHP) DHU Fighting Aging and Stress (FAST) CNRS UMR 8256 Pierre et Marie Curie University (UPMC Paris 6)ParisFrance

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