What is inappropriate hospital use for elderly people near the end of life? A systematic review

Magnolia Cardona-Morrell*, James C.H. Kim, Mikkel Brabrand, Blanca Gallego-Luxan, Ken Hillman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Older people with advance chronic illness use hospital services repeatedly near the end of life. Some of these hospitalizations are considered inappropriate. Aim: To investigate extent and causes of inappropriate hospital admission among older patients near the end of life. Methods: English language publications in Medline, EMBASE, PubMed, Cochrane library, and the grey literature (January 1995-December 2016) covering community and nursing home residents aged ≥. 60. years admitted to hospital. Outcomes: measurements of inappropriateness. A 17-item quality score was estimated independently by two authors. Results: The definition of 'Inappropriate admissions' near the end of life incorporated system factors, social and family factors. The prevalence of inappropriate admissions ranged widely depending largely on non-clinical reasons: poor availability of alternative sites of care or failure of preventive actions by other healthcare providers (1.7-67.0%); family requests (up to 10.5%); or too late an admission to be of benefit (1.7-35.0%). The widespread use of subjective parameters not routinely collected in practice, and the inclusion of non-clinical factors precluded the true estimation of clinical inappropriateness. Conclusions: Clinical inappropriateness and system factors that preclude alternative community care must be measured separately. They are two very different justifications for hospital admissions, requiring different solutions. Society has a duty to ensure availability of community alternatives for the management of ambulatory-sensitive conditions and facilitate skilling of staff to manage the terminally ill in non-acute settings. Only then would the evaluation of local variations in clinically inappropriate admissions and inappropriate length of stay be possible to undertake.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)39-50
Number of pages12
JournalEuropean Journal of Internal Medicine
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2017


  • End of life
  • Hospital transfer
  • Hospitalization
  • Inappropriate
  • Systematic review


Dive into the research topics of 'What is inappropriate hospital use for elderly people near the end of life? A systematic review'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this