The timing of when older adults arrive at a hospital and are admitted to an emergency department could put them at a slightly higher risk for adverse events, or even death, a new study finds.

The report was published on Nov. 6 in JAMA Internal Medicine.

The researchers looked at 1,598 people who were aged more than 75 years. All of the people were from France, and they had spent a night in the emergency department.

The researchers broke them into two groups: Those who stayed in the emergency department from midnight until 8 a.m. and those who were admitted before midnight. It turns out that people who came in from midnight through 8 a.m. had a higher risk for adverse events and dying in the hospital compared with people admitted before midnight. People who needed more assistance (such as those with limited mobility or lesser ability to advocate for themselves) were more at risk.

The study spanned 97 emergency departments in France during December 2022. Not only were the people more likely to die at the hospitals based on the time they were admitted; they also were more prone to adverse events such as bleeding, stroke, bedsores, falls and the like. 

Kenneth J. Perry, MD, an emergency physician at Trident Medical Center in Charleston, SC, told Fox News that older people may be more vulnerable to those adverse events because they may have cognitive or visual impairments that can cause falls and other health-related problems, especially in an unfamiliar place.

Marc Siegel, MD, a clinical professor of medicine at NYU Langone Medical Center, also told Fox News that older adults may have other comorbidities that can become troublesome if they’re in a hospital, especially if the person is under a lot of stress.

“It’s also easier to pick up additional medical problems in the hospital, including infections,” he said.