Agitation and aggression are common behaviors that often lead to psychiatric emergency center (PEC) admission of nursing home patients with dementia or Alzheimer's disease. However, few if any data are available that adequately describe characteristics and psychosocial triggers of agitation and aggression leading to transport and admission to a PEC.
A preliminary investigation to explore all possible characteristics and psychosocial predictors of PEC transport and length of stay in men and women nursing home patients with dementia or Alzheimer's disease was designed. Frequency distributions, chi-square, analyses of variance, and regression analyses were used to analyze the data.
One hundred PEC patient charts were reviewed, of which 58 charts were missing information and 42 charts provided evaluable data. Nursing homes located in impoverished areas transported patients to the PEC significantly more often than those in affluent areas. A disconnect between the agitated/aggressive mental state reported by nursing home staff leading to the PEC transport and the calm/cooperative mental status PEC clinicians observed during the admission process was evident. Data from the charts also showed that 74% of patients received off-label antipsychotics rather than FDA-approved medications to treat dementia or Alzheimer's disease.
This is one of the few studies to identify characteristics and psychosocial triggers of PEC use and length of stay in nursing home patients. We also highlight potentially dangerous antipsychotic use in dementia and Alzheimer disease. Thus, our data add to the existing knowledge base regarding PEC utilization, length of stay, and pharmacotherapy in nursing home patients with dementia and Alzheimer's disease. Given the preliminary nature of this study, however, the results should be interpreted with caution. (Journal of Psychiatric Practice 2011;17:251–257).