Ineffective communication of mental status information during care transfer of older adults
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BACKGROUND: Monitoring and documenting the mental status of older patients transferred between providers or facilities is important because mental status change can be a sign of acute disease and mental status abnormalities necessitate specific approaches to care.
OBJECTIVES: To identify patient and illness factors associated with presence of a mental status description in inter-facility transfer documents and to describe the content and concurrent validity of transfer mental status descriptions when they occur.
DESIGN: Retrospective study.
PARTICIPANTS: Individuals transferred between 5 long-term and 2 acute care facilities in an urban setting.
MEASUREMENTS: Trained research personnel reviewed hospital and nursing home medical records and inter-facility transfer documents. Mental status descriptions in transfer documents were coded as abnormal or normal within 5 domains: alertness, communication, orientation/memory, behavior, and mood. Descriptions were compared with mental status items in the nursing home Minimum Data Set and in a transfer communication checklist.
RESULTS: In all, 123 nursing home residents experienced 174 hospital admissions. Mental status descriptions were present in 69% of transfer documents. A total of 67% of patients missing a transfer mental status description upon nursing home-to-hospital transfer had dementia. Factors associated with presence of a transfer mental status description were urgent transfer, nursing home of origin, and among patients without dementia, greater cognitive impairment. When present, a mean of 1.47 (SD=0.81) cognitive domains were documented in transfer mental status descriptions. Agreement between transfer mental status descriptions and comparison sources was fair to good (κ=.31 to .73).
CONCLUSION: Mental status documentation during transfer of older adults between nursing home and hospital did not identify all patients with dementia and did not completely characterize patients’ cognitive status.
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- Ineffective communication of mental status information during care transfer of older adults
Journal of General Internal Medicine
Volume 20, Issue 12 , pp 1146-1150
- Cover Date
- Print ISSN
- Online ISSN
- Additional Links
- nursing homes
- communication barriers
- Industry Sectors
- Author Affiliations
- 1. Geriatric Research, Education, and Clinical Center, Bronx Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Bronx, NY, USA
- 2. Department of Geriatrics and Adult Development, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, NY, USA
- 3. The Jewish Home and Hospital, New York, NY, USA