Scripps Memorial Hospital in La Jolla. Photo courtesy of the Scripps Health

The American College of Emergency Physicians has awarded all four of Scripps Health’s hospital emergency departments geriatric emergency department accreditation, Scripps announced Tuesday.

The designation recognizes delivery of a high-level of specialized care to older patients.

According to the physicians’ group, the four Scripps hospital campuses — in Chula Vista, Encinitas, La Jolla and San Diego — met a range of criteria, including education, equipment and supplies, guidelines and procedures, the physical environment and staffing.

Each department has at least one board-certified emergency medicine physician and one registered nurse who have undergone special training to provide emergency care to older people, according to Scripps.

Other Scripps staff members receive education focused on common health complications older patients experience, such as cognitive and behavioral problems, falling, medication management or multiple conditions.

The emergency departments also focus on elderly patients experiencing a smooth transition from hospital care to their homes, reducing the chance of them being re-admitted.

Sandy Schneider, director of emergency medicine practice for American College of Emergency Physicians, wrote that the geriatric emergency department accreditation program “is the culmination of years of progress in emergency care for older adults.”

Chris Van Gorder, Scripps president and CEO, said the health care provider “is proud of the care that we provide to seniors across all of our facilities in San Diego County. This new accreditation at our hospitals offers additional assurance to those patients that practices are in place to deliver appropriate, specialized services that are focused on their needs.”

According to ACEP, seniors make up a significant portion of emergency department patients, accounting for 18% of visits nationwide. That figure will continue to grow as the U.S. population over 65 years of age doubles from 43 million in 2012 to an estimated 83 million in 2050, ACEP said.

According to Scripps, focusing attention on seniors in emergency departments not only improves the care they receive but could also help mitigate the nation’s rising health care costs, as those patients are more likely to be admitted to a hospital after longer emergency department stays.

–City News Service

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