Extended ER visits lead to nursing home stays, report finds

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Seniors who spend six or more hours waiting for a bed in the emergency room are "significantly" more likely to be admitted to a nursing home after their visit than those who spend less than six hours in the hospital, a new report says. 

Researchers found that waits longer than six hours increased by fourfold the likelihood of a nursing home or post-acute care facility admission. The physical and mental stress of lying in the hallway waiting for a bed may be the cause, speculates lead study author Dr. Sandra Schneider of the University of Rochester School of Medicine.

Many other factors can contribute to the disorientation and overall trauma that seniors experience as a result of emergency room stays, according to study authors. Change in the environment, excessive noise and light exposure, dealing with multiple caregivers and a lack of uninterrupted sleep can all lead to a decline in function that prevents the patient from being released home. Results of the study will be presented on April 4 to the International Conference on Emergency Medicine.