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Media opportunity: Research by Dalhousie University doctor reveals rise in number of seniors, people with non‑acute medical issues being left at emergency departments especially during the holidays

Posted by Communications and Marketing on December 19, 2022 in News

Researchers at Dalhousie University are tracking a rise in the number of older adults and people with non-acute medical issues being taken to emergency rooms in Nova Scotia in a trend that has been amplified by the pandemic.

Dr. Jasmine Mah, an internal medicine resident and PhD candidate at Dalhousie, is leading a study looking into the phenomenon that largely involves older adults and people with long-standing mental health issues being taken to emergency departments by friends and family who are having trouble accessing services in the community or caring for them at home.

The team has discovered that since the pandemic began, the number of these types of admissions has more than tripled. For example, hospitals in Halifax reported one to two cases a week on average since 2020, compared to three in 2010. In 2021, hospitals recorded 109 cases and are on track for another record number of these types of admissions this year.

Dr. Mah and colleagues are currently interviewing health-care workers and administrators about the cases -- colloquially known as social admissions or orphan patients -- and will also interview patients and their families.

Dr. Mah, who works in the Geriatric Medicine Research group, is available to discuss her findings so far and what could be done to help these socially vulnerable patients stay in their homes.


Media contact:

Alison Auld
Senior Research Reporter
Communications, Marketing and Creative Services
Dalhousie University
Cell: 1-902-220-0491


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