Background: Acutely hospitalised older patients with indications related to internal medicine have high risks of adverse outcomes. We investigated whether risk stratification using the Acutely Presenting Older Patient (APOP) screening tool associates with clinical outcomes in this patient group.
Methods: Patients aged ≥ 70 years who visited the Emergency Department (ED) and were acutely hospitalised for internal medicine were followed prospectively. The APOP screener assesses demographics, physical and cognitive function at ED presentation, and predicts 3-month mortality and functional decline in the older ED population. Patients with a predicted risk ≥ 45% were considered ‘high risk’. Clinical outcome was hospital length of stay (LOS), and adverse outcomes were mortality and functional decline, 3 and 12 months after hospitalisation.
Results: We included 319 patients, with a median age of 80 (IQR 74-85) years, of whom 94 (29.5%) were categorised as ‘high risk’ by the APOP screener. These patients had a longer hospital LOS compared to ‘low risk’ patients 5 (IQR 3-10) vs. 3 (IQR 1-7) days, respectively; p = 0.006). At 3 months, adverse outcomes were more frequent in ‘high risk’ patients compared to ‘low risk’ patients (59.6% vs. 34.7%, respectively; p < 0.001). At 12 months, adverse outcomes (67.0% vs. 46.2%, respectively; p = 0.001) and mortality (48.9% vs. 28.0%, respectively; p < 0.001) were greater in ‘high risk’ compared to ‘low risk’ patients.
Conclusion: The APOP screener identifies acutely hospitalised internal medicine patients at high risk for poor short and long-term outcomes. Early risk stratification at admission could aid in individualised treatment decisions to optimise outcomes for older patients.