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Patterns of emergency ambulance use, 2009–13: a comparison of older people living in Residential Aged Care Facilities and the Community

24 Apr 2018

AbstractObjectiveto examine demand for emergency ambulances by older people.Designretrospective cohort study using secondary analysis of routinely collected clinical and administrative data from Ambulance Victoria, and population data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics and the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.SettingVictoria, Australia.Participantspeople aged 65 years and over, living in Residential Aged Care Facilities (RACF) and the community, attended by emergency ambulance paramedics, 2009–13.Main outcome measuresrates of emergency ambulance attendance.Resultsolder people living in RACF experienced high rates of emergency ambulance attendance, up to four times those for age- and sex-matched people living in the community. Rates remained constant during the study period equating to a consistent, 1.45% average annual increase in absolute demand. Rates peak among the 80–84-year group where the number of attendances equates to greater than one for every RACF-dwelling person each year. Increased demand was associated with winter months, increasing age and being male.Conclusionthese data provide strong evidence of high rates of emergency ambulance use by people aged 65 years and over living in RACF. These results demonstrate a clear relationship between increased rate of ambulance use among this vulnerable group of older Australians and residence, sex, age and season. Overall, absolute demand continues to increase each year adding to strain on health resources. Additional research is needed to elucidate individual characteristics, illness and health system contributors to ambulance use to inform strategies to appropriately reduce demand.

Click here to view the full article which appeared in Age and Ageing