To investigate whether the clinical impression of vulnerability and the Dutch Safety Management Program (VMS), a screening instrument on four geriatric domains (activities in daily living, falls, malnutrition, delirium) are useful predictors of 1-year mortality in older patients in the emergency department.
This was a prospective observational study in the emergency department of a tertiary care teaching hospital. Patients aged 65 years and older visiting the emergency department, and their attending physicians and nurses were included. Clinical impression of vulnerability appraised by physician and nurse and the VMS-screening were recorded.
We included 196 patients of whom 64.8%, 61.7%, and 52.6% were considered vulnerable based on the clinical impression of vulnerability of physicians, nurses, and VMS-screening, respectively. Agreement between clinical impression of vulnerability of physicians and nurses, and VMS-screening were both fair (overall agreement 63.3% for both, and respectively kappa 0.32 and kappa 0.31). Clinical impression of vulnerability of physicians, nurses, and VMS-screening had a sensitivity of respectively 94%, 86%, and 73% for predicting 1-year mortality. A positive clinical impression of vulnerability was associated mostly with factors which can be observed directly during first patient contact after arrival to the emergency department, such as age, nutritional status, and functional impairment.
The clinical impression of vulnerability is a simple dichotomous question which can be used as a first step in the identification of vulnerable older emergency department patients, whereas the more time-consuming VMS-screening is more specific for detection of vulnerability. The clinical impression of vulnerability is therefore useful in a busy emergency department environment where time and resources are limited.