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The 'Graying' of Trauma Care: Addressing Traumatic Injury in Older Adults

Cutugno, Christine L. PhD, RN

AJN The American Journal of Nursing: November 2011 - Volume 111 - Issue 11 - p 40-48
doi: 10.1097/01.NAJ.0000407300.77350.03
Feature Articles

Evidence-based strategies for managing trauma and its complications in this population.

Overview Trauma is the seventh leading cause of death in older adults. Factors that contribute to the higher rates of morbidity and mortality in geriatric trauma victims include age-related physiologic changes, a high prevalence of comorbidities, and poor physiologic reserves. Existing assessment and management standards for the care of older adults haven't been evaluated for efficacy in geriatric trauma patients, and standardized protocols for trauma management haven't been tested in older adults. Until such specific standards are developed, nurses must be guided by the relevant literature in various areas. The author reviews the mechanisms of traumatic injury in older adults, discusses the effects of aging and comorbidities, reviews assessment guidelines and prevention strategies for trauma-related complications, and outlines some evidence-based approaches for improving outcomes. An illustrative case is also provided.

Keywords geriatric trauma, hospitalized older adults, older adults, trauma, traumatic injury

Christine L. Cutugno is an assistant professor of nursing at the Hunter-Bellevue School of Nursing in New York City. A CCRN for over 30 years, she was most recently the director of the Critical Care Division at St. Joseph's Regional Medical Center in Paterson, NJ, from 2003 to 2009 and at Jacobi Medical Center, Bronx, NY, from 1999 to 2003. Contact author: The author has disclosed no potential conflicts of interest, financial or otherwise.

© 2011 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.