Implementation of Multidisciplinary Assessments for Geriatric Patients in an ED Observation Unit

  • End date
    Oct 1, 2024
  • participants needed
  • sponsor
    Ohio State University
Updated on 25 February 2021


This project will implement a 2 step protocol for multidisciplinary geriatric assessment in the Emergency Department (ED) and develop a promising researcher into an expert in Implementation Science and Quality Improvement. Candidate: Dr. Lauren Southerland is a Geriatric- and Emergency Medicine-trained physician at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. She designed and leads the first accredited Level 1 Geriatric ED in the Midwest and has prior research on the care of older adults in the ED and in Observation Units. Training: The career development plan will build upon Dr. Southerland's unique fellowship training in Geriatrics with courses in Implementation and Dissemination Science, a Black Belt in Lean Six Sigma, and Master's in Public Health courses. This combination will position her as an expert in Implementation research, with the career goal of translating validated, effective elements of geriatric care into the daily practice of Emergency Medicine. Mentors: Dr. Southerland has an experienced mentorship team who will provide guidance in the intricacies of emergency research (Dr. Jeffrey Caterino, MD, MPH primary mentor), implementation strategies and studies of hospital staff and nurses (Dr. Lorraine Mion, PhD), implementation frameworks and reporting (Dr. Christopher Carpenter, an EM physician at Washington University at St. Louis), and identifying environmental and human factor barriers to quality care (Dr. Susan Moffatt-Bruce, MD, MPH, a vascular surgeon and researcher). Project: Multidisciplinary assessment by geriatricians, physical therapists, case managers, and pharmacists identifies and addresses underlying geriatric issues in older ED patients. However, only a few EDs across the country have been able to incorporate multidisciplinary care for their older patients, due to barriers such as personnel costs, work flow culture, and the 24 hour ED care model. We have developed a two-step protocol to address these barriers: Step 1 is ED nurses using quick, sensitive screens for fall risk (4 Stage Balance Test), delirium (Brief Delirium Triage Screen), and frailty (Identifying Seniors at Risk Score). Patients with concerning results will be placed in an ED Observation Unit for (step 2) multidisciplinary geriatric assessment. Using an ED Observation Unit for these extended assessments overcomes the barriers to multidisciplinary geriatric assessment. In Aim 1 we will use the Consolidated Framework for Implementation Research and Lean Six Sigma methods to identify and address residual barriers to full implementation. Aim 2 will evaluate the effectiveness of this protocol in regards to patient-oriented outcomes (functional status and health-related quality of life at 90 days). By using implementation frameworks and processes, we will develop a protocol that is effective, sustainable, and ready for dissemination to EDs across the US.


Older adult patients in the Emergency Department frequently experience poor outcomes due to lack of recognition of underlying syndromes, such as delirium, polypharmacy, falls, and social needs. This study uses rigorous implementation science processes to implement and investigate an ED protocol to screen older adults for these syndromes and address them with multidisciplinary geriatric assessments in an ED Observation Unit. Using an Observation Unit to evaluate older adult patients at risk is a novel strategy developed to address the current barriers of sustainability, cost, and timeliness that arose in prior studies of geriatric assessments in an ED setting.

Specific Aim 1: Implementation: Develop, implement, and sustain a two-step intervention providing ED geriatric assessments by combining 1) ED nurse-based screening for geriatric syndromes of all older ED patients with 2) multidisciplinary geriatric assessment in an ED Obs Unit. Mixed-methods approaches and the Consolidated Framework for Implementation (CFIR) will be used to identify resource, organizational, patient, staff, and administrative factors that affect protocol adherence. Lean Six Sigma processes will be used to overcome barriers. The effects of the protocol in reference to ED quality metrics, staff work flow, and work culture will be tracked.

Hypothesis 1a: Implementation: Lean Six Sigma processes will i) increase ED nurse-based screening rates to >80% older adults in the ED and ii) increase protocol fidelity in the Obs Unit to >80%.

Hypothesis 1b: Sustainability: After 6 months of >80% screening, the investigators will characterize the necessary elements for sustainability by systematically withdrawing implementation support strategies. Hypothesis: Attention to CFIR elements during implementation will result in routinization and institutionalization that does not significantly decrease with withdrawal or time, as assessed by sustainability surveys.37

Specific Aim 2: Effectiveness: The investigators will describe the effect of this protocol on reducing the decline in functional status and reducing other patient and systems outcomes (e.g. health related quality of life (HRQoL)) commonly seen after an ED visit.38-40 To obtain patient-centered outcomes, two patient cohorts (pre and post implementation) will be recruited.

Hypothesis 2a: The intervention will reduce the decline in functional status seen after ED visits. Secondary outcomes include health-related quality of life, ED revisits, and results of the multidisciplinary assessments.

Hypothesis 2b: Patients will be satisfied with the protocol as assessed by thematic analysis of qualitative subject interviews of post intervention patients.

Condition Delirium, Quality of life, Fall Patients, Functional Status, quality-of-life
Treatment Geriatric Screening tools
Clinical Study IdentifierNCT04068311
SponsorOhio State University
Last Modified on25 February 2021


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Inclusion Criteria

Is your age greater than or equal to 65 yrs?
Gender: Male or Female
Do you have any of these conditions: Fall Patients or Quality of life or Delirium or quality-of-life or Functional Status?
Do you have any of these conditions: quality-of-life or Fall Patients or Quality of life or Delirium or Functional Status?
Do you have any of these conditions: Fall Patients or Functional Status or Quality of life or quality-of-life or Delirium?
Adult patients >= 65 years old assigned to the ED Observation Unit for care

Exclusion Criteria

Need for inpatient care at the time of initial ED disposition
non-English speaking
acute psychiatric issues requiring stabilization by psychiatry team
unable to consent and no legally authorized representative available
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