The traditional model of emergency care may not be sufficient to address the complex care needs of older adults, who present to the emergency department with multiple comorbidities, geriatric syndromes, and social determinants of health, complicating diagnosis and management. Geriatric emergency departments (GEDs) have emerged throughout the last decade to address these concerns and improve the emergency care of older adults.
Our aim was to describe the policies, procedures, and workflow of our GEDs, and to provide data on patient outcomes and discuss challenges and recommendations in the development and implementation of a GED.
Our GED includes interdisciplinary staff trained in geriatric emergency medicine, evidence-based protocols for geriatric care, physical modifications to accommodate older adults’ functional limitations, administration of geriatric assessments, care coordination with case managers and social workers, and referrals to care. Assessments screen for geriatric syndromes and social determinants of health. Quality improvement is a critical component and includes a robust medication safety plan to reduce use of potentially inappropriate medications. Hospital administrators considering developing a GED should create a care planning team, conduct an institutional needs assessment, and identify the GED model that will most efficiently help them achieve an age-friendly health system.
The GED will play an important role in addressing the diverse health care needs of older adults in the coming decades. Future research studies of health outcomes among older adults receiving care at GEDs compared with traditional EDs will be critical in informing future improvements and innovations in geriatric emergency care.

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