The objective of this study was to characterize the content and interventions performed during follow-up phone calls made to patients discharged from the Geriatrics Emergency Department Innovation (GEDI) Program and to demonstrate the benefit of these calls in the care of older adults discharged from the emergency department (ED). This study utilizes retrospective chart review with qualitative analysis. It was set in a large, urban, academic hospital emergency department utilizing the Geriatric Emergency Department Innovations (GEDI) Program. The subjects were adults aged 65 and over who visited the emergency department for acute care. Follow-up telephone calls were made by geriatric nurse liaisons (GNLs) at 24–72 h and 10–14 days post-discharge from the ED. The GNLs documented the content of the phone calls, and these notes were analyzed through a constant comparative method to identify emergent themes. The results showed that the most commonly arising themes in the patients’ questions and nurses’ responses across time-points included symptom management, medications, and care coordination (physician appointments, social services, therapy, and medical equipment). Early follow-up presented the opportunity for nurses to address needs in symptom management and care coordination that directly related to the ED admission; later follow-up presented a unique opportunity to resolve sub-acute issues that were not addressed by the initial discharge plan and to manage newly arising symptoms and patient needs. Thus, telephone follow-up after emergency department discharge presents an opportunity to better connect older adults with appropriate outpatient care and to address needs arising shortly after discharge that may not have otherwise been detected. By following up at two discrete time-points, this intervention identifies and addresses distinct patient needs.
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