Intended for healthcare professionals

Primary Care

Follow up of people aged 65 and over with a history of emergency admissions: analysis of routine admission data

BMJ 2005; 330 doi: (Published 03 February 2005) Cite this as: BMJ 2005;330:289
  1. Martin Roland (m.roland{at}, director1,
  2. Mark Dusheiko, research fellow2,
  3. Hugh Gravelle, professor of economics2,
  4. Stuart Parker, professor of health care for older people3
  1. 1 National Primary Care Research and Development Centre, University of Manchester, Manchester M13 9PL,
  2. 2 National Primary Care Research and Development Centre, Centre for Health Economics, University of York, York YO1 5DD,
  3. 3 Sheffield Institute for Studies of Ageing, University of Sheffield, Sheffield S5 7AU
  1. Correspondence to: M Roland
  • Accepted 18 January 2005


Objective To determine the subsequent pattern of emergency admissions in older people with a history of frequent emergency admissions.

Design Analysis of routine admissions data from NHS hospitals using hospital episode statistics (HES) in England.

Subjects Individual patients aged  65,  75, and  85 who had at least two emergency admissions in 1997-8.

Main outcome measures Emergency admissions and bed use in this “high risk” cohort of patients were counted for the next five years and compared with the general population of the same age. No account was taken of mortality as the analysis was designed to estimate the future use of beds in this high risk cohort.

Results Over four to five years, admission rates and bed use in the high risk cohorts fell to the mean rate for older people. Although patients  65 with two or more such admissions were responsible for 38% of admissions in the index year, they were responsible for fewer than 10% of admissions in the following year and just over 3% five years later.

Conclusion Patients with multiple emergency admissions are often identified as a high risk group for subsequent admission and substantial claims are made for interventions designed to avoid emergency admission in such patients. Simply monitoring admission rates cannot assess interventions designed to reduce admission among frail older people as rates fall without any intervention. Comparison with a matched control group is necessary. Wider benefits than reduced admissions should be considered when introducing intensive case management of older people.


  • Contributors All authors contributed to the design of the study and to the authorship of the paper. HG and MD conducted the analyses. MR and HG are guarantors.

  • Funding The National Primary Care Research and Development Centre receives funding from the Department of Health.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Ethical approval Not required.

  • Accepted 18 January 2005
View Full Text