It seems like a simple enough question: How do you diagnose and treat uncomplicated UTIs in older adults? The answer is: It depends. Part 1 of this post will discuss diagnosis of UTIs in this population, and part 2 will address treatment.
What’s the first thing that pops into your head when you see an older woman presenting to the ED from a nursing facility with atraumatic altered mental status? If you’re like me, ‘UTI’ comes quickly to mind. I then banish the thought of a UTI and force myself to go through a worst-first differential diagnosis to exclude, either through the history and clinical assessment or through testing, more dangerous causes. This is a case of a 67-year-old woman with an unusual cause of altered mental status… and a UTI.
The winter holiday season is a busy time in most EDs. Colder weather, respiratory infections, and many factors contribute to this. However Christmas Day and New Year’s Day in particular are two of the deadliest days of the year. Missed medications due to travel, delayed presentations because of a desire to stay home for family gatherings, increased stress, alcohol and substance abuse, travel, and drunk driving, are just a few of the things that can contribute to morbidity and mortality in patients of all ages, and particularly in older adults. If you are working this holiday season, here is a glimpse of what you can expect.
Have you ever identified elder abuse in a patient in your ED? The signs can often be subtle, can look like one of many other medical or traumatic problems, and can be mistaken for aging-related changes. This is an unpleasant topic, but rather than bury our heads in the sand and pretend it doesn’t happen, let’s face it and see what we can do to intervene and help. How can you miss it less often? And what are your legal obligations if you suspect elder abuse?
An 84-year old woman presents to your ED with a traumatic, left-sided posterior hip dislocation. You need to reduce the hip. But how should you sedate her? Procedural sedation is an important component of ED care. It allows us to more comfortably perform otherwise painful procedures such as fracture or dislocation reductions, endoscopies, large laceration repairs, and I&Ds. How safe is procedural sedation in older adults?
After seeing your fifth young patient of the day with chronic pelvic pain, constipation, and irritable bowel syndrome, it is easy to be lulled into the mindset that abdominal pain is nothing to worry about. Not so with the elderly. These 10 tips will help focus your approach to atraumatic abdominal pain in older adults and explain why presentations are frequently subtle and diagnoses challenging.
The complications of alcohol use can be subtle in older adults, and the effects of alcohol are often incorrectly attributed to aging. Because of its under-recognition, the barriers to screening, and the many subtle ways in which it can present, some have suggested that alcohol misuse has replaced syphilis as the “great masquerader”. If you don’t think alcohol misuse is a problem among older adults in your ED, it may be because it has been hidden in plain sight.